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Generally speaking, I love the fact that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society exists. It's beauty is in the simplicity of its products: single cask whiskies, non-coloured, non-chill-filtered, not diluted. But the tasting notes on the label (and the website) drive me nuts - their flowery, over-expressive style distract me from the basic elements of the whisky, and actually make it difficult to write notes such as these- since it is too easy to fall back on the Society's assessment.
This grain whisky comes to us from Girvan, which was established by William Grant & Sons in 1964 to guard against a possible shortage in their supplies. The complex also has a gin distillery and houses the recently opened Ailsa Bay malt distillery. This whisky was distilled on May 28 1984 (the day before my 13th birthday!), maturing for 28 years in a refill hogshead, yielding 275 bottles. The grain is lightly peated.
According to the bottler, the colour is "the eye of a tiger." (Did Charlie Sheen write this?) In reality though, it's an orangey amber. On the nose, there is a hint of peat, with toffee and a similar note of sticky candy that was present in the North British I just reviewed. Somewhat dusty, and dustier with water, and fruitier. Water also brings out the aroma of "a well worn Barbour jacket," apparently. If someone's jacket smells like this, they should hit an AA meeting, stat.
On the palate, there is still that light peating, which I love. More toffee, some vanilla, and a jammy-ness (apricot, pear, plum). Spices include ginger and nutmeg - yes, quite spicy, but gentle spices, not hot. Slightly medicinal, and a touch of dark chocolate. Water smooths things out a little, and makes it stickier. The palate is more complex than the nose, which is rare in whisky.
On the palate, the "smoky Werther's" really show up. High-quality BBQ sauce, sticky toffee, an a little salt-and-pepper. One of the best grains I've ever tasted (not that I've tasted a lot). I just tasted again the North British and definitely found it a little cloying next to the Girvan.
And the drinking tip from the geniuses at SMWS? "Morning Tea in an antique shop." Guess I'll be packing this when I look for a new armoire.