Friday 27 June 2014

SMWS Tasting (March 2014) (Tasted #105 - #107)

A few months ago I attended the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia's "Whisky Tasting Extravaganza", held in the usual Royal Automobile Club location.

Calling it the "biggest SMWS tasting ever" certainly wasn't an exaggeration, as the stand-up, tasting station format saw guests handed a "passport" with 12 stamps, to be filled up in two hours (if so desired).

12 whisky tastes. 2 hours.

Considering the tastes were (or at least seemed) to be ~15mL pours, and the whiskies in question were all SMWS (and hence cask strength) drams (typically in the 50-60% ABV range, but often above, with one rum reaching a heady 75% ABV), it's fair to say this wasn't an easy feat. I only managed 11...

These are my tasting notes for 3 of the drams on offer (I realised after 3 that if I took notes for each one, I'd barely get through 6 before the session ended!)

SMWS 132.5 "Sweet and darkly beguiling" (Karuizawa) (58.6% ABV, 14yo, Japan, $398AUD)
Nose: Rich, sweet, Demerara sugar and breakfast cereal.
Palate: Syrupy, chewy even! Hint of smoke, and boiled lollies.
Finish: Long, dusky, rich sugar notes.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100.

SMWS 28.24 "Curiouser and curiouser" (Tullibardine) (52.2% ABV, 23yo, Highlands, Scotland, $319AUD)
Nose: Malty, earthy, grassy, with an undertone of sweetness.
Palate: Malty, rich, earthy. A world apart from the previous dram.
Finish: Long, sweet, tannic towards the end, with a mouth-drying finish.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100.

SMWS 21.27 "An enticement of sweet oak" (Glenglassaugh) (58.6% ABV, 39yo, Speyside, Scotland, $735AUD)
Nose: Tropic fruits, sherbert. Not what you;d expect of a 39yo whisky.
Palate: Light and fruity! Again, strange for a whisky of this age. Slightly earthy notes.
Finish: Long, incredibly smooth, with some residual smoke towards the end (though very light).
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. Incredible simply for how its character compares with its age.

While I do think 12 cask strength drams was a little too many (not that we were forced, mind you), I enjoyed this format, and look forward to seeing this more casual setup mixed in with the more formal SMWS tastings throughout the year.

 - Martin.

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