When I joined the SMWS, I first did it as I wanted to partake of some cask strength unfiltered goodness. Obviously, for a whisky aficionado, this is one of the good places to be a member of.
Then, at one random point in time I realised there was an “event” category on the website where things were actually organised. I remember thinking – surely there’s nothing in Paris. Boy, was that a stupid thought. You can find the full account of my first SMWS tasting session here.
This time around, yet another discovery: I realised there were events in a small committee at a Speakeasy where whiskies were paired with cigars. My blood just went boiling at the sheer idea of the combination of both, being a fan of cigars (H. Upmann & Romeo y Julieta in particular if you wish to know).
So I purchased my ticket and eagerly went to Gentleman 1919, in Paris, a quite excellent venue. It was 21h. I got back home at 1h45. Here’s why.
The place in and of itself was created as a combination of French and English standards of elegance. You can enjoy being pampered at the barber, or get your shoes polished, to finish your day in the very nice room with club armchairs, enjoying a cigar and some SMWS whiskies.
Underneath the main floor, there’s a nice & quiet room, hidden from sight and any kind of disturbance, where you can sit privately with friends. This is where our event took place.
As this session coincided with The Gathering, it was the opportunity for a larger than usual selection when compared to the number of people present. We were 5, including the SMWS ambassador. There were 6 bottles. Some would call that a Scottish aperitivo.
Either way, we were guided through the story of the cigar by Maxime, the waiter, and started our merry way huffing and puffing through the following whiskies. Again, this doubles as a TL;DR version of the review for the lazy bastards among you:
SMWS – 77.53 – A delectable Confection – 83/100
SMWS – G7.14 – Always room for dessert – 79/100
SMWS – 46.69 – Ruby boozeday – 84/100
SMWS – 30.106 – Succulent, scintillating, substantial – 85/100
SMWS – 39.175 – The chocolate and wine diet – 89/100
SMWS – 33.137 – Campfire marshmallows on singed sticks – 92/100
I do realise by now that I should describe the experience on the cigar side as well, but I did forget to write down the name of the cigar as well as my “huffing” notes. Take that as an apology and the guarantee I’ll aim to correct that.
This little Glen Ord was for me the first opportunity to taste something from this distillery. It’s always good to be able to blindly try things like that in order to challenge the acquired taste. Plus, starting with a vault collection bottle? Quite a boon. It stated a surprising 27 years old age statement along with a 41.3% ABV. Time to drink it indeed!
Vanilla and pear on the nose, some remnants of a medicinal smell after the nosing, very nice to smell though. On top of that I could point some liquorice and aniseed which I appreciated.
This one was surprisingly herbal and medicinal, more like chartreuse, yet disgruntingly different from the nose, while leaving room for pear and vanilla.
Almost no finish, all on pear.
I’m surprised this one is a Vault Collection and I suspect this is because the investment and the years spent maturing this mighty beverage took their toll. 41.3% ABV smells like the last chance to drink it. It definitely isn’t my thing, especially with this almost non-existent finish. The nose was good, but the palate wasn’t up to it.
Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this one so to compensate, here’s a picture of me looking positively happy.
Fair warning for this one, I’m not a huge fan of grain to this day. I’ve been seen pouring my rye in a glass to fix myself some hot toddie – this is how much I want to drink it neat.
Either way, this one is a Girvan, and again, is boasting a quite surprising 27 years old in the “Spicy and sweet” category, which I’m usually a fan of.
Vanilla and apricot, but not much more.
Musty oak on the mouthfeel, not the best of feelings for me.
Oily yet leaving the mouth dry, quite earthy
Well, caramel, and that’s all.
There are times where your senses can’t find anything to latch onto, nothing to grasp. This is one of them. It was very difficult for me to find something interesting to my senses besides the taste/smell of old whisky and this grainy thing I don’t like. The rating reflects that.
Again an old age statement with this Glenlossie, as this one is a 20 years old “Old and Dignified” release. Is SMWS having a spring cleaning or a retiree reckoning these days? Either way, this one matured in a second fill charred ex-red wine barrique which I usually like,so let’s see!
A nice vinous smell, with hints of red berries yet leaving me the impression something’s amiss, unbalanced. It could (should?) be richer.
Oaky, vanilla and custard. Not very original but okay.
A sweet finish, slightly bitter, following the palate
By then in this tasting I was starting to annoy Jean-Philippe, our ambassador. 3 drams, 3 I didn’t really enjoy! Stroke of bad luck I guess? Either way, for that age statement this one was also disappointing, especially as to me the finish was there on the nose but not on the palate.
Moving on from the previous categories, this one is coming right from the Spirit of Speyside festival as it was released to celebrate it. It sits in the “Deep, rich and dried fruits” expressions for SMWS which I also tend to appreciate, and it’s obviously a PX, 2nd fill. As to the origin, it’s a 21 years old Glenrothes, continuing then with the spring cleaning of old barrels!
Quite surprisingly for this kind of dram, I had first nail polish on the nose. I put that on too many drams by then. After that, I got the usual PX expressions for me which is to say nutmeg, cinnamon, and the like. There was some sort of vinous/sherry-like quality at the bottom.
With water, apricot comes on and the nail polish fades in the background – which I preferred!
The palate was everything you expect from a PX – nutmeg, vinous, some sundried apricot, nuts and dates. I did feel a bit of lemon, and orange which gave it a refreshing side, and I did appreciate it.
A medium-long finish stayed on orange and let the oak come through.
A bit weak for me, even though adding water let it develop other things. Not sure about the citrus side of things – it was good but the link with the PX finish was peculiar.
This one is a Linkwood. I don’t know why, but since I visited Scotland, I’ve had my eyes on this distillery. Plus, a Vault Collection item, of a category I tend to appreciate in 1st fill Hogshead/PX. With its 29 years old, it was bound to be interesting.
Apricot and tropical fruits! Some discreet nail polish/wine and some soothing musty side. Black chocolate. Water removed the polish altogether.
Dry. Some spices, nutmeg, cinnamon. Black chocolate. Water mellows it out.
Finish medium long on chocolate.
I had my eyes on this one for a while but I do think the price tag is a bit too high (£190!) when considering how much I liked it. Sure, it was interesting on its fruity side, but the finish was kind of too simple for me to enjoy it properly.
SMWS – 33.137 – Campfire marshmallows on singed sticks
At last, an Ardbeg release! This one was limited for the Gathering event, and not for sale: quite a treat indeed. I was curious about how it’d differ with the official releases. This one is a 10 years old, 1st fill bourbon – so it was bound to be interesting for a peaty one, in my opinion.
Sweet bonfire – weird yet nice sweetness, quite palatable. Vanilla obviously, yet cloves notes that I did enjoy.
Typical Ardbeg peat, cloves added and a surprising fruity yet hard to define precisely background.
Medium long finish.
This one was a really nice finish. I did enjoy it very much, as it was a nice change from old releases and a good peaty addition – can’t resist peat. I ended up sipping it to the bitter end!