cask 3056, refill sherry butt
The Bottlers is a small independent bottling company based in Edinburgh. The amount of bottlings this company has released recently is very limited, but the quality has always been exclusive in my opinion. I don't recall anything new coming out from them the last couple of years. A company like this that for some reason releases so few casks and are very selective about them, can afford to wait for the best of the best.
Balmenach is a hidden gem of a Speyside distillery and is owned by Inver House, which also owns Knockdhu (AnCnoc), Balblair and Old Pulteney which is getting the company's main promotions. I find the general quality of their bottlings well above average for standard OB's and I hope they will extend their range to Speyburn and Balmenach as well.
Visiting their distilleries has always been a great joy for me, it has always been more about whisky and people than big company marketing which isn't always the case when visiting distilleries. I had a range of very fond memories from them :
- Bottling Old Pulteney straight from the cask in Wick for some of the best whiskies I ever tried
- Visiting Balblair in 2007 around the time they released their vintage series (1979 and 1997 are also favourites of mine)
- Visiting Knockdhu at the 2010 SoS festival for one of the the best distillery visits I ever experienced (great whisky as well)
Inver House is a company that just seems to do it the right way (well.. the way I like it) and I really hope they get the success they deserve !!
Back to the whisky...
The nose is sweet, with a sourish touch which just screams to me that this is gonna be fullbodied - its like inhaling oils and not alcohol vapours. The palate is creamy, musty, minty, spicy with a big touch of vanilla
2. SMWS 2.61 16yo 1988 59.0% (Glenlivet)
SMWS, Scottish Malt Whisky Society started as a small group of friends sharing one cask, and developed into a society with a membership restaurant and bar with club rooms, apartments etc.at the Vaults in Leith, with similar locations in Edinburgh center and London and quite a few overseas departments. The first cask bottled was labeled as 1.1 and this 2.61 is cask #61 from their distillery number 2. The number of distilleries that SMWS has bottled has passed 120, and includes irish, grain and japanese whiskies.
- If you're a peathead it's compulsary to know that 33 is SMWS'ish for Ardbeg :-)
Their bottlings doesn't reveal distilleries, by not putting distillery names on the labels, they have easier access to trading with the distilleries. The distilleries of origin is not a big secret, here's one list available online :
When visiting their staff has no problems with revealing distilleries either, here's a video where 3 of their bottlings are presented, and I have to admit that video made me want a 33.84 :-) and I wasn't alone on that
Today the society has thousands of members, releases around 20 bottlings every months and has been bought by a big multinational company LVMH -MOËT HENNESSY - LOUIS VUITTON who also owns a couple of distilleries (Ardbeg and Glenmorangie), so they have moved quite a bit from the start - a huge success
SMWS are also wellknown for their maltporn : their exaggerated tasting notes and bottle descriptions, a bottle of Laphroaig I bought recently was labeled "Kissing a Balrog's Bum" !
SMWS Haggis (yum yum)
Now to the 2.61 !
Nose : fruity, apples and pears
Honey, more apples and pears, quite musty ash and dust, bitter on the finish
Feels like having an older dram that it actually is, there is a bit of warehouse feeling about this, the wood bitterness is a little bit to much