We taste five SMWS whiskies
This issue's featured bottler, in case you hadn't noticed, is SMWS. We convened the inaugural Connosr Tasting Panel to sample the delights of five bottles from their latest batch.
Connosr's tasting notes
SMWS 77.20 - "Honeysuckle, jasmine and fern"
Distillery: Glen Ord
Nose: Apples, marzipan, reminiscent of a very refined Calvados but with a floral garnish. Add a drop of water and the nose diffuses slightly although some of the apple remains. Better without water.
Palate: Light bodied and delicate but with great depth of flavour. Full of apples, edible flowers and butter. A touch of caramelised bitter sweetness wraps around it all and prevents things getting overly sweet or sickly.
Finish: Slightly burned, bitter sweet notes develop further. With water the bitterness reduces but we preferred it close to cask strength with just the tiniest drop of water.
Comments: Well balanced, integrated and focussed. What you get on the nose you get on the palate. Tart tatin sprinkled with petals - in a glass. Delightful, captivating and perfect for summer. We highly recommend this whisky.
SMWS 25.53 - "Pomanders & powder puffs"
Nose: Slightly rubbery at first, then floral, with something musky joining in. After a while we get the caramelised edge of a honey glazed rib from the BBQ accompanied by some orange peal and honey roasted nuts. Pale in colour.
Taste: Ham – boiled at Christmas with spice. A caramel edge, after a while becomes slightly bitter. With a drop water the bitterness is absent with everything hanging together much better. Good body, nice and syrupy.
Finish: Early porkiness gives way to something rather like sucking on a slice of aloe vera – vegetal, green and fresh – slightly surprising after what has gone before. Finally subsides to charcoal and smoke.
Comment: We like this one very much, complex & surprising with a long finish. Worth a look if you are after something slightly unusual.
SMWS 18.30 - "Hippie dram"
Nose: “My grandmothers dressing table” one commented. Imperial leather soap, Brylcreem, talcum powder, nostalgic and old fashioned. Pale colour.
Taste: Initially blue cheese rind, giving way to leather - “like sucking the sleeve of a suede jacket”.
Finish: Leather is overtaken by Swiss herbal cough sweets in the end giving way to salty Swedish liquorice - “Salmiak”
Comments: At 45.5% the angels have had their fair share of this one. We liked the nose but in the end this was not our favourite, quite interesting but collapsed with water. This is the only one of the five we wouldn't recommend.
SMWS 53.141 - "Chinese food in an old-fashioned hotel"
Distillery: Caol Ila
Nose: Briny, anchovies, grilled fish served with toasted almonds – a hint of greenery like grass cuttings a few hours after the lawn mower has been turned off. No prizes for guessing where this one is from.
Palate: The fish and nuts from the nose served between pink ice cream wafers with some butter beans. Develops a slightly syrupy edge.
*Finish:* Becomes even sweeter before receding to a more savoury flavour with hints of rolling tobacco. Long. Very long.
*Comments:* Fresh and light of body, nose translates well to the palate, lots going on - we enjoyed this one. Excellent for Islay fans.
SMWS 2.78 - "Kissed up by sweet promises"
Nose: Early waft of vanilla before toffee on scotch pancakes. Water brings out some herbal notes and fresh saw dust. Delicious.
Taste: Confident and balanced. Savoury woodiness lies beneath a layer of toffee. There's something fruity like quince jelly. A few drops of water brings forward the toffee and wood.
Finish: White pepper and vanilla develops with some tar in the medium finish before the wood and toffee return at the very end.
Comments: This really is a very good dram and was a close second favourite on the night. Recommended if you like complex well executed Speysides.
Follow SMWS on Connosr
SMWS are on Connosr, you can follow them via their quirky new profile at www.connosr.com/smws