On March 8th, I had the pleasure of taking my Pappy to another exclusive tasting for members of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society at the Union League. Aron Silverman, the society’s ambassador, travels around the country bringing the society’s unique bottles to those interested in furthering their palate and learning a bit more about the manufacture and distribution of whisky.
As I have mentioned previously, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is offered casks from each manufacture when the master distiller determines that the contents in the cask are not quite right for release under the brand’s name. Of those casks offered, the society will taste and then reject about 80% and then release the remaining 20% under the SMWS’ own label. Over the years, I have purchased nearly a dozen bottles and tasted about the same number at the various whisky extravaganzas that I have attended. I have found the taste to be reminiscent of the distiller but wholly unique in terms of a comparison to any release from that distiller. Additionally, the SMWS release is cask strength so while some releases might be of a similar potency to an actual distillery release, most have a good deal more alcohol which again lends itself to a unique flavor experience.
So, as a member of the society, I am alerted to the local tasting events and I decided that my Pappy and I could use another night out. Last year, we went to an event that was jointly sponsored by the society and the Glenlivet and we had the opportunity to try five expressions of the Glenlivet and five different society bottles. This year, was strictly a society event and Aron brought with him the following bottles: 48.20 Crepe Suzette a 10 yr old from Balmenach; 4.145 Sand Dunes & Heather Moorland a 21 yr old from Highland Park; 66.31 Apples at Hallowe’en an 11 yr old from Ardmore; 27.87 The Vital Spark a 10 yr old from Springbank and 29.92 Sweet & Smoky Intensity a 10 yr old from Laphroaig.
While none of the distilleries were new to me, the tasting was quite varied and moved from more traditional flavors like the Balmenach and the Highland Park to the incredibly complex Ardmore to the only slightly less complex tastes of Campbeltown and Laphroaig. As with most whiskies, there seemed to be a different favorite for each person at the table. I really enjoyed the Balmenach and the Highland Park. Pappy liked the Ardmore which I found to have almost too many flavors and he even enjoyed the offering from Springbank after passing up a prior society bottle from there (27.76). I don’t know if our palates had been softened by the prior whisky but we both enjoyed the Laphroaig and neither one of us claims to be a true fan of peat smoke.
The good whisky coupled with Aron’s presentation created a great night made even better by the exceptional dinner provide by the Union League. I hope that there is another tasting prior to the extravaganza in October but if not I’ll be sure to hit the society’s table then.
For more information on the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America check out their website at www.smwsa.com or contact Aron at Arons@smwsa.com.