Wednesday, May 22, 2019

SMWS Festival bottlings 2019

Here is my review of 5 SMWS festival bottlings.

A festival in front of my laptop

SMWS 93.109 - Let Them Eat Hake
8yo 59.7%
Cask filled 1 April 2010 - 1st fill barrel ex-bourbon

SMWS, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, is an independent bottler that uses number codes to identify distillery and cask. 93.109 is cask number 109 bottled from their distillery number 93. Distillery number 93 is Glen Scotia

This was bottled for the Campbeltown Malts Festival, which takes place from 22-24 May

The nose is warm and welcoming. Sweet and meaty with medium fruity touch of peat.
This whisky is extremely oily the the extend it feels like actual drinking oil. It's dominated by a touch of both peat and salt, with warm almost olive oil flavour. No, not really, but the viscosity gives me that association. Later comes  a little meaty-ness and the finish is medium with some vanilla.

Rating 88/100

SMWS 10.169 - Obsidian Salmagundi
9yo 60.6%
Cask filled 22 October 2008 - 1st fill hogshead ex-oloroso
(Oily & Coastal)

This is the 169th cask bottled from Bunnahabhain, SMWS distillery number 10

SMWS operates with 12 colour coded flavour profiles. I have added them in paranthesis.You can also see the colour codes on the bottles on the bottles. The vertical line and age statement has a dark blue-green colour. This colour is the catagory "Oily and Coastal"
Colour coded flavour profiles is probably a good idea, but for me personally I have a hard time setting up a new system to box my whisky into it. I allready have a system and it's hard to learn old dogs new tricks.

This was bottled for the Islay Festival, Feis Ile, which takes place from 24th May to 1st June

The nose is dominated by the oloroso sherry notes and some sweet wet wood notes, likes the smell of just unbunged casks. Whisky does smell different from a cask than a bottle.

This is a sweet,  a little sharp, sherry dominated flavour. It's not a sherry monster, but one of those delicate woodforward sherry whiskies. As I often find in Bunnahabhain, the spirit have quite some maltiness

The finish is long and this whisky remninds me of drinking straighth from the cask

Rating 88/100

SMWS 7.216 - Champagne and Crepes Suzette
14yo 58.9%
Cask filled 17 November 2003 - 1st fill ex-bourbon 
(Juicy, Oak & Vanilla) 

Beside the number codes, each bottle also carries a name for the whisky. This whisky has the name "Champagne and Crepes Suzette". Let's see how it fares. I really dislike Champagne, but I love Crepes Suzettes. Number 7 is Longmorn from Speyside and this was bottled for the Spirit of Speyside festival which happened in the beginning of May

The nose is very dominant on vanilla. Vanilla whisky. Tasting it, I immidiately get a lighter and less oily whisky compared to the other ex-bourbon, the 93. It's a bit simple and one dimensional, it's good that that one side is vanilla. The only other thing I can find is a very faint soapy note

The finish is medium and doesn't reallt add much to this whisky

Rating 84/100

SMWS 30.106 - Succulent, Scintillating, Substantial
21yo 57.2%
Cask filled 17 April 1997 - 2nd fill butt ex-PX
(Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits)

SMWS is an independent bottler and you need to be a member to get access to their bottlings. They were founded in Edinburgh and have two locations in Edinburgh and one in London. Beside that they have chapters and partnership bars all over the world. I can sometimes be seen helping pouring craft beers at the one in my hometown. "Mig & Ølsnedkeren" in Aarhus, Denmark

Number 30 is Glenrothes. This was also bottled for the Spirit of Speyside festival

The nose is a classic sherry bomb. I am very sulphur sensitive, but I have to really dig into this to find the faintest hint of rubber. Or maybe not. There is also a faint hint of balsamic vinegar. 

The palate is huge sherry bomb, with a lot of licorise. Add a faint hint of rubber and balsamic vinegar. It's super dry as some dark sherry bombs but more on the fruity side. 

The finish is rather long and spicy

I am probably not the biggest fan of heavily sherried whiskies but I can drink this one. If you are a sherry whisky fan I suggest you check this out. if you can find it

 Rating 87/100

SMWS 29.261 - An Evil Dutch Dentist's Dram
21 yo 50.3%
Cask filled 1st fill hogshead ex-oloroso
(Old & Dignified)

Being a member in Denmark we have these great opportunities every 2nd month to taste all the new bottlings (usually around 14-16 bottles) at outturn casual days events set in various bars around Denmark. It's always good to try a whisky before you buy.

Distillery number 29 is Laphroaig. And this Laphroaig is also a Feis Ile bottling

The nose is sweet, sherrried and very peaty

On the palate I get eucalyptus, hint of red berries and loads of peat and it's quite light on the viscosity surprisingly. 

The finish is long with medicinal notes

Rating 88/100

You can find a decoding of the SMWS distillery codes here:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Grindlay's Selection

Here are five whiskies from Grindlay

Dalriada Blended Scotch Whisky 40%

Dominated by grain, quite perfumy. Will appeal to Bowmore fans that doesn't like peat.  After a nit the perfumyness gets a bit soapy. Easy drinking and this kind of flavour could appeal to some

I like that this below 25£ blend is natural colour

Rating 77/100

The 4 remaining bottles are all single cask releases and natural strength

Ben Nevis 1997 52.6%

I also find this a bit perfumy, but not soapy. I also get the burned hair sense I often pick up in Ben Nevis, but for this bottling it's quite faint. That said this is very drinkable and fans would describe this as a whisky with character. The perfumnyess get's a tad bit too much for me at the end of the dram

Rating 82/100

Glentauchers 1996 54.5%

A full bodied, flavourful malt, but also on the delicate side fruity side, with a nutty finish

Rating 85/100

Dailuaine 1996 57%

Very nice and delicate whisky. The nose is how you wish your next whisky is going to smell. It got the oldstyle bubblegum thing, that I so rarely see these days. Very nice

Rating 89/100

Craigellachie 2006 64.1%

Strong. Kinda grainy. A bit newmakey, which appears as a bit of sourness. For the lovers of young malts

Rating 78/100

Thanks to Grindlay's for the samples. More info about the bottlings on their own website here: 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A short guide to Del Maguey for whisky drinkers

Today I am moving into a subject I don't know a lot about. I went to a Del Maguey event organised by the danish importer, Juul's Engros, and tried to learn a bit. The event was a promotion for mainly local cocktail bartenders. It was hosted at the Mikkeller bar in Aarhus, and I managed to get an invitation from the boss of the Mikkeller bar. Drinking a lot of beers sometimes pays off 😈

The Mikkeller Bar has a limited (very) selection of spirits, but there is 2 bottles of Del Maguey on the shelf there, which is about a fifth or sixth of the total selection of spirits. It is a beer bar after all.

I have always been a big fan of the Del Maguey mezcals I have tried.

Del Mageys is one of the top, if not the top bottler of Mezcal.

The line-up

Mezcal is a mexican spirit made from agave . Agave is a plant that looks like a mix of artichokes and cactus. Like the artichoke, it's the heart of the plant that is used.

The best known version of mezcal is tequila, which is often mass produced and not very good. That said, quite a lot of excellent tequilas do exist. Tequila is made from blue agave, while mezcal can be made from any agave. Tequila is sometimes barrel aged, which mezcal (normally) isn't.

After harvesting the agave is roasted in a  small earth pit by hot stones for a period of days, which varies from producer to producer.  Beside some geographical restrictments (which overlap), this is the main difference between tequila and other mezcals. Tequila is often just pressure cooked.

I guess the cooking/roasting breaks down the starch to sugars. The roasting will give mezcal a slight (sometimes more than slight) smoky flavor.

The agave is then milled and fermented, with wild airborne yeast. At this point of production the only other ingredient is added, which is water. After fermentation the mash is distilled. The stilltype can vary, Clay and copper potstills is the normal, and as I understand it, it's a double destillation (normally). Hybrid stills do exist, so single destillation mezcal dom exist and I taste one further down this post. No water is added to Del Maguey after destillation, so the ABV is controlled by running a relative longer tail than compared to normal whiskyproduction.

Del Maguey (maguey means agave) is a range of mezcals produced by small family owned producers in the Oaxaca state in Mexico. This is basically farm distillers. The difference between the different mezcals comes from a range of parameters, here is some of them:

Agave variety
Roasting time
Fermentation time
Still type

At the event I tasted the following:


Chichicapa had a distinct smoky flavor and would appeal to whisky drinkers who like Ardbeg


Minero is made on clay potstills and I guess the abscence of copper is why Minero is a bit rougher, sulphury (vegetaby) and has intense flavour. This Mezcal will appeal to whisky drinkers who like Ben Nevis and Glen Scotia. One of the other participants, the cheese maker from Arla Unika, bought a bottle of this to use as ingredient in a cheese. Because it was the most intense mezcal we had that day. He was right. And it makes sense to choose this as a flavour ingredient

San Luis del Rio - Azul
A lot of sources says Mezcal's isn't made from blue agaves. They are wrong as this is. The Azul is sweeter and nice and will to whisky drinkers who like sweeter highlanders/speysiders. Think Glencadam (I did)

A dry (but also kind of sweet) mezcal. Earthy, citrusy and smoky. This and the Chicicapa were the two I found most smoky. Chicicapa was a tad bit sweeter. This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like Longrow
San Pablo Ameyaltepez
The lighest of the bunch. I found this a bit synthetic tasting, but still nice. I wonder if I thought so, becasue I was told this mezcal was single distilled on a hybrid still 😀
This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like grain whisky.


Pechuga is a rare speciality version of Minero. Pechuga means chicken. The Minero is distilled a third time. 100 liters of Minero is mixed with 100 kilograms mix of wild mountain apples and plums, plantain red bananas and pineapples, almonds and uncooked white rice. In the neck of the still the vapour of the 24 hour destillation will pass through skinless chickenbreast with bones

The result is a spicy and very complex spirit. This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like really old and delicate whiskies. Who doesn't ?

As with old and delicate whisky, this is not cheap.

Barrel aged - Santo Domingo Albarradas

This is Santo Domingo Albarradas aged for 1 year and 7 months in a Stitzel-Weller Barrell that held bourbon for 20 years. Labeled as Stitzel-Weller but presented as Pappy van Winkle. Probably because noone know what Stitzel-Weller is, and everyone knows Pappy. Except you and me off-course.

This particular cask was bottled for Maison du Whisky.

This was simply delicious. I need to source out and try the non barrel-aged Santo Domingo Albarradas to see what flavours this barrel gave to this mezcal. It has a distinct medicinal flavour I associate with pre-prohibition bourbon and ryes. I guess this will appeal to whisky drinkers who likes pre-prohibition bourbon and ryes.

100% Tobala
For some odd reason this is one of my favourite labels ever

Made from wild Tobala agave. Intense and very flavourful and the perfect finish to tasting 9 mezcals. This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like single cask, cask strength whiskies.

Big thanks to Lukas from Mikkeller for edging me in on this, and thanks to Del Maguey and Juul's Engros for hosting this.

On purpose I didn't litter this post with a lot of technical details, but the geeky reader can benefit a lot from the official website of Del Maguey

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A couple of Teelings

The Revival 13yo

This whisky has been matured for 12 years on ex-bourbon casks, and then finished in ex-calvados casks

The nose is delicate, fruity and has a bit of dry wood. The palate has got a lot of calvados to it. Think dry applejuice. Still adds a slight sweetness to the whisky. Easy drinkable. I am a purist, som prefer my whisky to taste like whisky and this is just a little bit too much calvados for me

Rating 84/100

Teeling 24yo

Matured on ex-bourbon with an ex-sauterne finish

I am probably not the right person to review a whisky finished on ex-sauterne as sauterne (a sweet french dessert wine) tends to give whisky a...yes, sweet or very sweet taste

This particular whisky is very sweet and tastes a lot of sauterne. It's full bodied and sweet. The nose is delicate and sweet. The palate is nutty and sweet. To be fair the the bold nuttyness dominates the sweetness. It's has a long, quite intense and sweet finish

if you are into sweet whiskies this is something for you. It's hard for me to give this is a score as for me there is a difference between bad whisky and then whisky that I don't personally like. This is not a bad whisky, but it's not my style at all

Rating 82/100

Thanks to Teeling for the samples. (Photos stolen from the Teeling website)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New release from Fary Lochan

Fary Lochan Forår Batch 2 


When a whisky distillery moves beyond "promising"

With the first of spring hitting us Fary Lochan is releasing their second "Spring" version of their malt whisky. Forår is danish for spring

"Forår" means Spring so this should be over

I really like the nose of this whisky. It's light, delicate and very moreish. Here are my tasting notes

Colour: Pale yellow

Nose is delicate malty, with notes of vanilla, honey and lemon pudding. Behind there is a faint note of the signature Fary Lochan nettle smoke. In a nutshell, this is lemon nettles.

Palate: A light viscous spirit with an earthy touch. Nutty and malty. A crisp freshness is added with the light smokiness and it all finishes out with notes of lemon and green apples.

Fary Lochan is still maturing and this is their oldest expression to date. the whisky is still not 5 years old and the youth is not very obvious in this bottling but there is a faint hotness to the palate. The minimum age for whisky to be bottles is 3 years old and with an increasing stock of whisky maturing it seems that Fary Lochan can go out and pick something good. This is my favourite danish whisky to date. Particular the fantastic nose is the reason for this.

Rating 85/100

Thanks to Fary Lochan for the sample

(Photo stolen from Fary Lochan fb-page)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Loch Lomond Single Grain


Loch Lomonds new bottling is a NAS single grain. It is bottled at 45%
according to the promotional material the grain used is excluselively malted barley. it is also mentioned the whisky is matured in american oak casks. The reason this is not considered a single malt, is that malt whisky requires a specific distilling equipment (pot stills). This whisky is distilled on a Coffey still and is best compared to to Nikka's Coffey Malt

The nose is extremely fruity and citrusy. with a hint of newmake. The palate is is more of the same fruity character. This whisky reminds me of the malt whiskies seen from numerous new distilleries that uses hybrid stills. Makes sense since both are not double distilled but single distilled. The palate is fruity, citrus - pineapple mix. it is a little bit hot. I also get a faint note of shaved pencils or cardboard box. It's a nice dram, the biggest problem is that it doesn't taste like whisky. Nor does it taste like the grain whiskies I have tasted before The flavour that og grain whisky is usually based on cask-induced components. This whisky for sure has a flavour that is spirit driven.

Easy drinkable, somewhat different to what Scotland otherwise has to offer. Fruity, almost eua-de-vie like and just a little hot on the prefinish. It's a bit hit or miss if a whiskydrinker would like this style or not. After a bit I get a little worn by this unusual flavours so I think it's omething you have to get used to drink. In short, this whisky is delicate, fruity, weird and the weakest point is the finish

Rating 82/100