Today we’re looking at a couple of small batch experiments from the SMWS.
SMWS Small Batch Full Bloom
This small batch release was created by combining whisky from Speyside that had been aged for sixteen years in bourbon, and re-racking it into 1st Fill Australian Muscat Barriques for a two year finishing period.
This is delicate and fruity. A little citrus, orange, persimmon, and a touch of caramel. Overall this has quite a restrained nose, and it’s tough to get much from it. Going back to it after air and we’re getting a weird metallic copper note, that reminds us of Irn Bru. Finally we’re getting some honey, a light mint aroma and almonds.
There’s lychees, apricots, and a zingy orange note which carries into the finish. It’s very fruit forward, not overly sweet but there’s a nice balance of acidity and sugar. There is a pepperiness on the finish, that’s not too aggressive but is enough to leave a tingle in the mouth. It’s a little flat overall, we feel that the reduction in ABV has lost something, it’s like the mid palate is missing.
Nose (with water)
There’s a perfumery note now, and we’re getting more cake, frosting and jam from it. The nose has opened slightly, but not much more than before. Going back we’re getting some lime zest and icing sugar.
Palate (with water)
It’s a little more citrus forward now, lime juice mixed into a tropical fruit salad of lychee and dried apricots. The palate holds up well to water, it’s arguably better, but there is a bitterness that’s replaced the spice before. We’re still missing something to excite us unfortunately.
Could we tell this is 18 years old? Not really. It’s light, freshly and fruity but lacks a body and burst of flavour that we were looking for. It’s pleasant but not overly complex or challenging. If only it was at its full strength, maybe we would have gotten some more interesting out of it. We’re going with 7/10.
SMWS Small Batch Black Oak
This small batch release was created by combining whisky from Speyside that had been aged in first fill bourbon and finishing it in Refill Gascon Black Oak Ex-Armagnac Barrels.
A cross between candy and wine. There’s a grape aroma we assume is from the Armagnac barrels, along with a candy sweetness too. Synthetic sugar, sweet milk bread, jolly ranchers, appletiser, strawberry laces and melon. It’s a very sweet nose overall, quite pleasant but not particularly complex.
There’s mango purée, red grapes, and a strawberry swirl ice cream followed quickly by a harsh chili heat. It’s really really spice, way more than than we’d expected. Those strawberry notes from the nose still appear and carry well into the medium length finish, but it’s overwhelmingly spicy.. unpleasantly so. There’s a dry oak bitterness that accompanies the spice which also isn’t to our tastes.
Nose (with water)
We’re getting some more of the wine/brandy aromas, it’s more grapey, slightly musty with some kiwi and a touch of sour apple. It’s a little more in balance now, less of the outright sweetness and more of the concentrated fruit aromas.
Palate (with water)
We’re getting some brioche, sour apple sweeties, tangy mandarin flesh, and a nice creamy mouthfeel. The overwhelming spice has receded. There’s still a pepperiness there but it’s in balance now. The finish has a decent length, but we’re still finding it a bit safe.
With a water this is a very quaffable dram. The nose is light, fruity and fresh, and the palate is pretty tasty. Our main issue is it’s not overly complex or exciting. We’d have another dram, but don’t particularly need a bottle.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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