I must admit this is the first Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) bottling I've tried, so I've had to make extra special attempts to stop excitement getting in the way. Apparently excited tastings make the adrenaline pump the alcohol into the bloodstream faster. Or maybe I made that up.
Slipping out from its bottle, the "125.33" as it's catchingly known, looks frighteningly pale. This is the morning dew that sits on dry straw. The lychee juice that fairies make. You're afraid to hurt its feelings. It's an enchanting colour and it's a shame to drink it. But never mind.
The initial nose fits the colour, it must be said. The first thing I picked up was a light creaminess - I still don't know how smell has a texture, but this has the texture of Devon fudge.
As it breathes, the creaminess is joined by an army of fresh fruit, and you can start to see why the bottle got its "Tutti Frutti" moniker. Peaches, apples, and some apricots and raisins all come through, and underneath there's that sugariness of the fudge - a kind imperceptible bass note of muscovado sugar, all combining to make me really, really want apricot cheesecake.
The lightness is perfect for springtime, and the only thing wrong here is that it's currently dark. This is a great "breakfast dram" - certainly for a fresh March morning if you have the day off and want your day to go with some vim. It's subtle, and I think we're going to have to add some water later...
But some tasting first. On the tongue, this changes direction, and I have to say I'm enjoying the unexpected. The body is darker - there are still appley notes from the nose, but here grapes and a peppery red wine kick in. Things just got interesting.
The finish holds less surprise - a strong echo of the body, yet allowing the peachiness through a little.
I go back to add some water. The first few drops (or maybe just time in the glass) really bring out pears now, with yet more peach.
It feels like it can take some dilution despite its colour, so I add more water - it's worth making this up to at least a 1:1 ratio, as each drop seems to release more lemon sherbet. Balancing the nose with the body is an art on this one, and it may be well worth finding out your preferred level of watering down.
Overall then, this is - for me - a difficult whisky to rate. It hangs together slightly oddly - and rating would depend entirely on mood.
The nose puts you into a lovely subtle place, which the body rubs up against. Sometimes this produces a fuzzy feeling, like static electricity. Other times I want more of the lighter fruits coming through. A tough call (and the finish suffers the same fate) because the nose is so good.
I'm going to carry on sniffing this one :)
Thanks for the comments.
@PeatAndMeat: It's a 20 year - sorry, didn't mention that as I noticed it was on the info page for the whisky, although it's fairly tucked away (you have to click "More on this whisky", then see the "About the bottle" box on the right...)
Strongly considering membership to SMWS on the back of some of these recent reviews.