Islay region – 58%ABV – 750ML bottle – Go here to join the society & gain access to their bottles
Today begins a full week of SMWS whisky reviews.
I am a fairly new member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (from here on out to be referred to as SMWSA). I’ve got a few friends who’ve been members for a while now and I was going back and forth; should I join? shouldn’t I join?, etc…
For those of you unfamiliar with the society, the SMWSA is the American arm of the parent society based in Leith, Scotland. Every month they offer up new exclusive whiskies to their members. Whiskies you can find NOWHERE else and they are all Single Cask, Cask Strength expressions. Their whiskies come from over 127 different distilleries (Most are Scottish distilleries but they now include Japanese expressions such as Yamazaki, Nikka and Hakushu).
Back to my becoming a member — again, I was really hemming and hawing over whether or not to join the society. YES I would have access to these great whiskies but hey, there’s a membership fee involved… It wasn’t until I started talking to, and began reading reviews from, my fellow whisky blogger Jason of Guid Scotch Drink that I decided to bite the bullet and join. This is perhaps the most scrumdittilyumtious bullet I’ve ever bitten.
For information on the SMWSA including their current whiskies and how to join in on the fun, click here. If you are outside of the US, click here for international branches.
This is the third bottle I purchased from the SMWSA and I did so for two reasons.
Reason #1 – It’s a 9 year old Single Cask Bowmore coming in at 58% alcohol by volume (a young peaty, high ABV whisky? Sign me up!)
Reason #2 – I love the titles the good SMWS folks give their whiskies and this title did not let me down. They entitled it “Burning Heather, Charcoal Embers – and Gunpowder!”
So, how does it taste? Does the title give us an indication as to what we’re about to taste? Mayhaps… let’s see:
On the nose — Very fragrant, almost flowery.
Slightly salty (think sea salt and nori).
Dried flowers + sunlight + magnifying glass + 9 year old boy.
Sweet oak scent.
On the mouth — Mouth-wateringly sweet and explosively peaty – HUGE attack!
Not smokey, almost like an electrical fire in the mouth.
Buttery and lemony at the same time.
Dead honey suckle and sweet herbal teas.
As high in alcohol content as this is, I found that that with time and a bit of patience, no water was needed.
Finish — Long and oaky – now the peatiness is more of a natural wood-burn smoke.
A sparkler down the center of the tongue.
In sum — Unique, invigorating and lovely. I’d say the title did not let down. This is explosive and flowery. Light and zingy as well. A warm fall or oddly warm, early spring day is a perfect time for this dram. Today was a warm fall day so, it was quite perfect.
This was the wake dram that Jason of Guid Scotch Drink and I enjoyed a few weeks ago when he came by for a visit. And I have to say, it was the perfect way to start the day. A true wake-you-up drink that’ll beat coffee, Red Bull, Rock Star… whatever…