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Here's a Sunday treat, and a lucky one at that - three grain whiskies from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society! I rarely get to taste SMWS bottles, let alone grain whiskies at all. So tonight, let's do all three!
For those who are new to this style of whisky, grain whiskies are distilled from a mixture of malted barley and other unmalted cereals such as wheat or corn. It is also distilled in a continuous still rather than in a pot still, as it is produced in massive quantities, primarily to be used in blends. This one comes from North British distillery, in Edinburgh. It was distilled in December 1990 and matured in a refill hogshead for 21 years, yielding 211 bottles. This sample was generously provided to me by Johanne McInnis (AKA Whiskylassie).
The colour is a slightly dark gold (or a "pale apricot gold" according to the bottler). On the nose, very soft fruity aromas such as apricots, bananas and lemons (but the high ABV does give some alcohol burn). In fact, there's quite a lot of lemon pastry, with creme caramel on the side. Extremely desserty. With water, the creme caramel becomes creme brûlée, and cinnamon makes an appearance.
On the palate, yep - assorted boiled sweets - very sticky, buttery, almost cloying, with peppermint, cloves and baking spices. Yes, the more I hold it in my mouth, the more the "stickiness" intrigues me - I don't think I've encountered this in a whisky before. I didn't say I liked it, just that it is intriguing. Not as hot as you might think given the ABV. With water, it's even stickier - and somehow hotter. Tasty, but a wee bit sweet.
On the finish, more butter pastry, slowly turning into tropical fruits such as banana and papaya. A little sweet for me, but very complex fruitiness going on here, and would go well with dessert. According to the SMWS, it is a "summertime dram - or maybe while making cakes." Can't disagree with that.