Friday, 12 October 2012

SMWS Tweet Tasting

This special Tweet Tasting was hosted by Steve Rush of @TheWhiskyWire and Joe McGirr of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and was the beginning of a whisky filled weekend all centred around The Whisky Exchange’s annual whisky show held at Vinopolis

On the eve of the tasting the postman delivered a rather splendid package of four specially selected drams in celebration of The Whisky Show. The box proudly stated that this was the third release of the series, and my box was one of just 390! Every bottle released by the SMWS is drawn straight from the cask, at cask strength, and each of the casks have been carefully selected by their tasting panel (something I would love to be part of one day).

I was well prepared for this tweet tasting, leaving work a little earlier than usual to make sure I was ready with my four glasses, water, notebook, twitter screens etc. Then the phone rings. My daughter Kat too had got everything prepared, but went to grab her samples and found she had left them at work! With 15 minutes to go, it was too late to run back to work to collect them, so seeing as I was closer and ready I told her to get her butt here while I found a second set of four glasses for her.
I was fully prepared for this #SMWSTT, Kat was too, but minus the whisky
So promptly at seven o’clock, with a full house, Steve and Joe kicked of the evenings educational entertainment, and seeing as each of these are single cask whiskies, each fully qualified as a new whisky discovery:

Whisky Discovery #180

SMWS 48.33 'Marshmallows and Chocolate Éclairs 9 Years Old (58.9% abv 10cl)
Single Cask Speyside Lossie Malt Whisky
Only available from the SMWS

Dram #1 A 9 Year Old Speyside Lossie
We kicked off our Tweet Tasting with this 9 Year Old from the Balmenach Distillery. Distilled on 25th November 2002, and matured in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel. 

It was my first ever Balmenach, which as far as I can tell was once a contributor to the Johnnie Walker blends. 

The distillery is currently owned by Inverhouse Distillers, and they haven’t as yet, produced a single malt bottling from this distillery, although a limited number of bottles of Balmenach 27 Year Old and 28 Year Old have been produced for their Highland Selection series. This was a rare treat indeed!

The label reads "Scents of bubble-gum and fondant, becoming fruity and sweet. Hot taste with orange peel and jalapeno chillies. Water softens it; melons, ferns, dusty marshmallows. The texture is soft and sweet: chocolate éclairs, toffee and lemon zest"

So what did I think?

I found vanilla, oranges and sherbet lemons on the nose initially, it was quite 'zesty'. After a little while in the glass it becomes sweeter with a little fruit, but there was a dusty chalkiness to it as well. On the palate there is an initial sweet vanilla creamy mouth feel, orange blossom, before building up to a fiery pepper kick which quickly subsides when swallowed. The finish has both a light sweetness and saltiness at the end.

With a drop of water the nose becomes much sweeter, and the dusty marshmallows are very clear to me and I still could pick out the orange zest. The water softens the mouth feel taking away some of the fiery pepper leaving smooth vanilla caramel and lemon zest.

I returned to this after the tweet tasting with some good quality vintage Cheddar cheese which went exceptionally well with it becoming like a creamy vanilla custard.

Some of my favourite tweets for 48.33:

@LRWhisky I find oranges and vanilla, before being taken to an old fashioned sweet shop (childhood memories from Chester!)
@SMWSambassador With water toast and marmalade thick cut. Smooth and delicate, think just a drop or 2 really works for this dram
‏@rodbodtoo Palate Wow, that's a punchy dram! Super sweet, super smooth. Like Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup
@the_josephellis Palate - truly amazing! Creamy orange sauce with an oily texture
@dvdbloke  Sweetie shops, powdery anglo bubblegum. Certain creaminess

Whisky Discovery #181

SMWS 44.52 'The Artist, the Brewer and the Baker 22 Years Old (52.1% abv 10cl)
Single Cask Speyside Spey Malt Whisky
Only available from the SMWS

Dram #2 A 22 Year Old Speyside Spey
For the second dram of the evening we were treated to this 22 year old from the Cragellachie Distillery. This had been distilled on the 9th October 1989 and matured in a refill ex-Bourbon hogshead. 

This was another distillery I've never heard of previously, and I found out that there has only been one official bottling released from the distillery, that being a 14 year old, first released in 2004, so another treat for us!

The label reads "Aromas of paints, canvas and linseed then dried fruits, chutney and shortbread. To taste it's oily, hoppy and dry. Water adds pencil shavings, brine, tangerines. Honey and pink icing on the palate with fresh challah bread.

So what did I think?

My initial nosing notes read “Damp woody leafy forest floor, pencil shavings, light turpentine nose to it too.” After a little while in the glass the nose started to open up, there was more citrus zest coming through, but I could still find a sort of oily note to it, like the oiliness of old turpentine, that had been used to clean brushes a number of times. I read the label and picked up on the Linseed oil, that was what I was trying to put my finger on, I was getting old fashioned putty on the nose.

I really loved the complexity of this dram, both on the nose and on the palate; it needed of time in the glass, and with a drop of water became so much sweeter, with icing sugar although I wasn’t able to determine the colour! The woody dampness subsided to putty and pencil shavings on the nose.

Returning to it later in the evening I found that it has got a vegetal almost Anejo Tequila nose to it (and I hadn’t touch a drop of that evening)

Some of my favourite tweets for 44.52:

@rodbodtoo I Just Spilled Chocolate Orange Milkshake On A Newly Varnished Bench On A Hot Day (is what it should be called)
@whiskyrepublic I'm about 30 yards from that bench, under an apple tree, just next to a shop where ladies do nails
@TWLJoe The nose takes me back to detention, old wooden school desks but seems this old desk is filled with maple and pecan slices
@whiskyrepublic Could it be a "heavy wet coats on a bus in winter" kind of dampness?
@SMWSambassador With water I get the dampness. A wood after the rain in Autumn. A great dram for a walk in New Forest before lunch

Whisky Discovery #182

SMWS G5.6 'Bye, Bye Miss American Rye 18 Years Old (65.3% abv 10cl)
Single Cask Grain Whisky
Only available from the SMWS

Dram #3 An 18 year old Single Grain Whisky
We were really being spoilt at this Tweet Tasting! Next up was an 18 year old single grain whisky, distilled at the Invergordon Distillery on the 20th May 1993 and matured in a virgin toasted oak hogshead. This single grain was all about the wood it had been matured in.

The label read "Clean, light and spicy; eucalyptus and apricot glaze, then allspice, five spice, Spiced rum, tea tree oil and bags of vanilla. Big sweet taste, with loads of oak – further released when water is added. Like an exceptional American Rye whiskey.

So what did I think?

I had only just recently revisited a 20 Year Old Port Dundas single grain release at the weekend, and it had a similar punchy grain nose with dark rum. There was also notes of Tea Tree oil, very spiced rum and raisins. There's a shellac element too, and toasted coconut, and very ‘Bourbonesque’. 

On the palate there was a huge vanilla burst initially then the fire of the pepper, before settling down to sweet caramel, with a light smokiness char too

Some of my favourite tweets for G5.6:

@the_josephellis I'm getting a hefty dose of desiccated coconut on this nose! Very rye like!
@SMWSLondon This is what I've been waiting for. Virgin toasted oak.
@DramStats Palate. Huge alcohol burn. very sweet vanilla. Develops into rum and aniseed with wood on the nose. Then finish of RUM BALLS! YAY!

Whisky Discovery #183

SMWS 3.194 'Surf and Turf BBQ 14 Years Old (58.3% abv 10cl)
Single Cask Islay Malt Whisky
Only available from the SMWS

Dram #4 A 14 Year Old Islay
For our final dram of the evening we moved across to Islay and this 14 year old from the Bowmore Distillery. Distilled on the 25th September 1997 and matured in a refill ex-sherry butt. 

At last we had a whisky from a distillery I was familiar with! Well I had heard of Bowmore, though only tasted my first Bowmore at the previous weekends’ Midlands Whisky Festival. 

The label read “Mussels, Cockles and Oysters to start with then smoky gammon and coal tar shampoo. The taste is salty, smoky bacon and boiled lobster meat. Little smoke on the palate and good balance of sweet and spicy notes” 

So what did I think?

I was immediately reminded of salt and seafood on the nose, and tweeted that this would go so well with a BBQ mackerel and Thai chilli lime and garlic sauce. I was also getting a faint rubbery nose. On the plate there was an instant salty smack, yet there was a pleasant sweetness too. 

On the palate I was getting a sweet scented pipe smoke taste, a little liquorice and a short peppery blast before mellowing, and finishing with waves of smoke from the the dying embers of burning charcoal and short peppery blasts.

Some of my favourite tweets for 3.194:

@DramStats Nose Ah! the Bowmore peat. Dusk BBQ on a beach. The bottle is so accurate it's hard to deny what it says
 ‏@jalcock1982 Nose spare ribs, sea salt, cider, smoke, shrimp, buffalo wings, sticky, pear drops
@the_josephellis Leave it in the glass for a good ten minutes. I'm really getting those salted prawns coming out
@thebonaccord  Saltcoats on a nice day chip shop fire nice dram
@DramStats Palate: We're still on the BBQ and we've marinated everything in honey. Ozone, sweet smoke, sticky ribs, pepper, sunset on the beach

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #SMWSTT hashtag on twitter for the full story!

Yet another great experience and another highlight of my whisky journey, registering a fabulous four new ‘discoveries’ A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and Joe McGirr at @SMWSLondon and everyone else at the SMWS as well all the Tweet Tasters for sharing your tasting notes with us all.

This events tweet tasters were: @TheWhiskyWire @SMWSLondon @SMWSQueenStreet @SMWSAmbassador @TheWhiskyBoys @WhiskyIleach @ifotou @bumpythechemist @jalcock1882 @EdinburghWhisky @dramstats @WhiskyRepublic @Rodbodtoo @LRWhisky @the_josephellis @steveprentice @PresleyKa @TonyWTC @dvdbloke @Whisky_Demon @TIA568B @DramaticWhisky @GlenfiddichJM @SpiritStirling @thebonaccord @TheWhiskyLounge @TWLJoe @TWLAmanda @WhiskyDiscovery

If you want to be included in the next Tweet Tasting make sure you are following @TheWhiskyWire on Twitter to find out what is happening.For more information see: and for information about the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

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