For a few people, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a group of green (and now various other colours) bottles that are really hard to try, never have the name of the distillery, and everything is cask strength.
I can say honestly that there was a point where I was in that camp. I was blown away to find some, and then very lucky to have had the chance to purchase some bottles and join the group.
Let’s jump to now. I’m no longer the naive-everything-is-amazing-young whisky drinker I once was. I’m now the cynical, bitter reviewer that hates all happiness (that’s a joke). To be serious, I have now had more SMWS releases, and there have been some duds.
Part of the impetus behind SMWS was single casks, single malts, not watered down, etcetera. So when SMWS M01 Exotic Cargo 10 2006 was announced, there was some backlash. Which I can understand. People, like myself, are not too happy about less Scotch to pay a premium for, as well as the launch of a new premium line within said group that saw price increases, and now a blended malt instead of more single casks to buy.
That said, I can see the benefit in taking some of the single casks that may not shine on their own and making a blended malt. I can see having issues finding enough casks, having to make more money, and having to change things up. More independent bottlers mean more competition. More taters mean you see auctions make a ton of money just by flipping.
Do I agree with all of the SMWS’ recent decisions? Probably not while charging a premium to just get the chance to buy bottles. Or sending a selection that some would charitably call “poor” to my country. My wallet will do the talking.
But enough about the politics of this whisky. What we want to know, normally, is how it tastes and what it is. So this is a blended malt, meaning it’s a blend of single malts. No grain whiskies. I’m just guessing that they grabbed up different single casks they had, I don’t have actual proof of that.
On top of that, it’s aged solely in first-filled sherry Spanish oak hogsheads. So while some may not be happy with a blended malt as part of their lineup, it’s not NAS, it’s aged in good casks, and it’s not a low abv.
But does it taste good? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: No longer available
Stated Age: 10 years old
Cask Type: 1st Fill Sherry Spanish Oak Hogshead
Number of bottles: 1,937
Colour: 5YR 3/8
Nose: Nectarine, pineapple, cocoa, toffee
Initially I’m rolling my eyes, typing up my rants, and eating 1,000 more calories in rage. Then I keep checking it, because, well, I only joke about being a total neckbeard whisky fan, and two, there’s more to it.
There’s your everyday stone fruit, but eventually more tropical notes and some earth. It’s not a sherry bomb, like I expected. Water brings out more sweets, incase fruit doesn’t do it for you.
Taste: Pineapple, sugar syrup, rosemary, sour cherry
Tropical fruit, then that sugar element kinda goes raw. And like the word raw usually denotes, somethings rough is going on.
Water brings out some nice herbal and sour elements. Again, nothing crazy, and it has that “experimental hipster cocktail” flavour going on, which I’m not super into, regardless of how many Dungeon and Dragons games I join.
Finish: Honey, buttery bread, caramel, grassy
Finish starts out nice. Disjoint from the rest, but nice. The sweets have calmed down, and there’re some nice floral/grass elements mixed with it.
That said, if this was the finish on another whisky and I mixed up my notes, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Conclusion: Slightly above average blend. It’s got a good mouthfeel, nice tropical notes, and a nice finish. Nothing is too super complex, it’s well built for what it is, and I can’t say I’d turn it down for the price.
If I didn’t have to pay a premium to have the chance to buy it, that is. And there’s the rub. Adding in the premium on the bottles is the elephant in the room. Cadenheads brings out multiple blends as well.
That all said, if you’re a fan of blends and want something slightly better, then this is it. I didn’t hate it. They’ll make more. It’s nicer than having a dud single cask that cost way too much.
Scotch review #996, Blend review #88, Whisky Network review #1560