Sunday, 12 January 2014

SMWS London January 2014

I love being a member of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I don't get down to our nearest venue in Farringdon nowhere near enough, but I try to make sure it features on each trip I make into the city as it is conveniently located just across from Farringdon station.

Farringdon also happens to be on our mainline in and out of London, so very easy for us to get to. My only 'gripe' is that it's not open on a Sunday (yet?) although I see the Edinburgh venues are, but that might be due to it's 'city' location where many places close for the weekend in this area

It was my youngest's 16th Birthday just before Christmas and big Sister Kat bought her some tickets to a ballet show in London for the fourth of January, informingg me that I would have to 'chaperone' this time as Kat wouldn't be able to make it due to college commitments.

I quickly checked where the theatre was and too my delight, found out it was just a fifteen minute walk away from 19 Greville Street. Ideal! So while the girls (she took her best friend with Kat's ticket) were at the show I could spend two hours in our favourite waiting room.

I've had a couple of good days out with Twitter pal Adrian Barnett (@mynameisgone) having first met him at last years Whisky Live London. We've since done a couple of shows together, Septembers Midlands Whisky Show and last November's Wine & Spirits Show which is another story.

I asked Adrian if he'd be able to get a 'pass-out' for a couple of hours to join me for a New Year dram, and over the Christmas break a couple of other local #WhiskyFabric decided they would like to join us, and meet for the first time too, so it was all set. A short afternoon session at the London headquarters of the SMWS, 19 Greville Street.

After dropping the girls off at the theatre I arrived on the dot at 2 o'clock. Adrian and Scott Saunders (@Saunders_AFC) were already installed when I arrived, just settling in for their first dram. It was the first time I'd met Scott who had recently joined the SMWS and this was just his second visit. I joined them with their first dram.

Matt Veira (@mattveira) arrived a little later and joined us and long time SMWS member Philip Storry (@philipstorry) who was split between two groups which all became one as the afternoon went on and after I left.
The Dram Team; Phil, Adrian, Dave, Matt, Scott behind the bar at 19 Greville Street

I had to run at 4 o'clock to pick up the girls, but in the two short hours I managed to meet two more of the wonderful #WhiskyFabric out there in the Twitterverse, register six new whisky discoveries on the Liquid Log including a new distillery, and taste some spectacular whisky.

Whisky Discovery #679

SMWS 48.38 'Sparkling Summer Effervescence' (58.2% abv)
Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Whisky

Only available by the dram at The SMWS
So for my first dram of the day was this nine year old Balmenach, and as the Liquid Log states was my second ever Balmenach, the first being another SMWS release, 48.33

Distilled on the 8th of March 2004 this spent nine years maturing in a first fill ex bourbon barrel and just 249 bottles were filled at 58.2% abv. This was a very refreshing light and fruity dram and a great start to the afternoon. I'm not sure who chose this one,but I've got a feeling it was Adrian.

Whisky Discovery #680

Brora 30 Year Old (2005)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
A 'money can't buy dram'?
A treat courtesy of Philip Storry for my second dram and this 2005 release of the 30 Year Old Brora. Philip has been an SMWS member for 10 Years and I've met him a few times in 19 Greville Street previously, and he also had the best name badge at The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show this year 'Grain Hoover' of Storry Whisky Disposal Inc. This sounds like the forward thinking company I ought to be working at!

This Brora was one of the Diageo special releases from 2005, a 30 year old from a closed Distillery. Left to breath for a while, this gives out some great oily anthracite notes which I particularly liked.

Whisky Discovery #681

SMWS 84.12 'Party in the Vineyard' (58.2% abv)
Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
Only available by the dram at The SMWS
My first ever Glendullan, a distillery I'd not even heard of until I'd rechecked Malt Whisky Year book, which reminded me I had heard of it, from The Singleton of Glendullen although I haven't ever actually seen a bottle of it. Matt Vierra had joined us for this dram, so not quite sure if this was Matt's or Scott's choice.

Glendullen is now owned by Diageo and is almost exclusively used in blended Scotch though once the favourite whisky of King Edward VII and Betty Boothroyd, the first female Speaker in the House of Commons

Distilled in September 1997 and matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead for 12 years yielding just 296 bottles at 59.3% abv this was another light fruity and fragrant dram, totally different to the dirty smoky Brora.

Whisky Discovery #682

SMWS 2.84 'Katherine Hepburn in a Vintage Jaguar' (53.3% abv)
Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
Only available by the dram at The SMWS
This was from the January Outturn and there had been quite a bit of interest on the twitter feed and had been asked by a few friends to sample and let them know what it was like. Joe McGirr loved this dram, and may have been the main perpetrator of the twitter interest. In any case releases from The Glenlivet are fairly unusual, and one as dark as this one almost unheard of.

This 20 Year Old was served up in one of the Society's nosing glasses, perhaps one of the prettiest in my opinion and I certainly need to get a set of these for home going forward. Distilled on 11th May 1993 and matured for 20 years in a first-fill ex-sherry hogshead it yielded just 77 bottles at 53.3% abv

This one has a most delicious nose, and an incredible depth of colour. With a little time to breathe I was picking out flavours that were very similar to a 30 Year Old Matusalem sherry I had over Christmas, lots of walnuts, as if they had been liquefied with figs and sticky dates. I needed to have a bottle of this.

Whisky Discovery #683

SMWS 53.200 'A Day at the Beach' (59.8% abv)
Islay Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
Only available from The SMWS £71.70
Another preview from the January Outturn and one I had every intention of buying when I left home that morning being a big Caol Ila fan. Unfortunately the other drams that I had around me at the time were distracting me and after The Glenlivet, Bruichladdich and Bowmore I was more interested in securing a bottle of 2.84 than this one unfortunately.

This is a good Caol Ila and one I hope is still around for a little while longer and I would like to add this to my shelf if still available when funds are sufficient.

Whisky Discovery #684

SMWS 23.52 'Teenage Dreams' (55.9% abv)
Islay Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
A 'money can't buy dram'?
Another treat from Phil Storry and a older release from Bruichladdich. Distilled in 1986, this would have been the Bruichladdich Mark Reiyner would have been enjoying before realising his dream and reopening the distillery in 2001.

Bruichladdich is another distillery that rarely crops up in SMWS Out-turns so the chance to taste this 19 Year Old was a real treat, and one of the highlights of the afternoon

Whisky Discovery #416

SMWS 3.193 'Baby Faced Arsonist' (58.2% abv)
Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
Only available by the dram at The SMWS
Not a new whisky discovery as I'd enjoyed this 14 Year Bowmore before when I spent a few days working in London. You can see what I thought of it then (as well as all the other drams enjoyed) here SMWS 3.193

This was my final dram for the afternoon, my choice, albeit my second choice as I was looking for an Ardbeg that had sadly run out. This has a lovely balance of sherry sweetness and earthy peat and I really wish I'd bought a bottle of this at the time.

Slàinte! Dave

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