As I start most of these posts, a couple of weeks ago, G-LO received the following five whisky samples from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America:
- Cask No. 9.62 aka “Mouth-wateringly sharp and sweet”.
- Cask No. 27.97 aka ““Glazed cashews and lemon lollies”.
- Cask No. 29.104 aka “Not for wee boys”.
- Cask No. 42.10 aka “Straightforward, sweet and spicy”.
- Cask No. G2.2 aka “A vaudeville act”.
Once again, I have to give credit to G-LO’s ability to work the twittersphere and ensure that our monthly shipment is right on schedule. With this shipment, G-LO chose Cask No. 9.62 and Cask No. 29.104, and gave me Cask No. 27.97, Cash No. 42.10 and Cask No. G2.2. (G-LO is very good at sharing.) Since I sampled the bottles in numerical order, I began with Cask No. 27.97. But first, the tasting notes from the Society for Cask No. 27.97:
Stunning for its age! Creamy fudge, condensed milk, Golden Syrup on hot buttered toast; Caramac toffee/chocolate; ‘Dolcé de Leché’ (Argentinian pastries). A very sweet taste, then mouth drying, with a thread of smoke in the finish; caramelised cashew nuts and fresh kindling wood. A drop of water musters crushed rosemary, beurre noir, ‘lemon lollies in warm sand’, sea-salt and a trace of struck matches; the taste smooth and viscous, with a light sweetness balanced by dry tannins; allspice, leather and tobacco in the finish. A classic old-fashioned example of the make from Campbeltown’s leading distillery.
I found the “Glazed cashews and lemon lollies” to have the following characteristics…
- Appearance: Deep amber with good legs.
- Aroma: Fondant, vanilla and buttered rum.
- Taste: Sweet in the front followed by a slight peppery spice and then an off-putting, lingering leathery, leafy finish.
- Age: 13 Years
- Cask: Refill gorda
- ABV: 57.6%
Without water this was palatable, not very good, given the finish but palatable. With water, the nose is still very sweet but the peculiar finish is tempered and replaced with a bit of salt and a bit of smoke and a long, leafy finish. I think this is a cask-strength whisky that might not need water but is vastly improved with it. According to whiskyportal.com, Cask No.27.97 is from the Springbank distillery, an independent distiller in Campbeltown that produces Springbank, Hazelburn, and Longrow.
The second sample was from Cask No. 42.10 and the tasting notes from the Society are as follows:
Yes it was young – but perfectly enjoyable – we nosed dried grass, flowers, herbs, creosote and soft tar (perhaps in a farmyard context?); also lemon sponge, vanilla, pepper and chocolate Easter eggs in boxes. The unreduced palate was pretty straightforward, sweet and spicy; specifically milk chocolate and white pepper, along with grass and paper. The reduced nose offered green grapes, melted vanilla ice-cream, some salt and a ‘scorched boiler-suit’. That simple balance (don’t look for much complexity) also inhabited the reduced palate – plum jam, syrup, MDF furniture, ‘licking a TV screen’ and some spicy warmth to finish. From Mull’s only distillery.
I found the “Straightforward, sweet and spicy” to have the following characteristics…
- Appearance: Pale yellow with average legs.
- Aroma: Alcohol, menthol with hints of florals. With water, the alcohol notes recede and hints of citrus, grass and vanilla move to the forefront.
- Taste: Hot, hot, hot. Very spicy with a little bit of tar. With water, the heat is reduced and there are strong flavors of candied spearmint, peppermint and cinnamon with a tongue tingling spice and a somewhat minty finish.
- Age: 7 Years
- Cask: Refill barrel
- ABV: 62.7%
This is what cask strength is all about. This was crazy strong and needed a lot of time and water to open up. With water, it was still a very flavorful and powerful whisky. According to whiskyportal.com, Cask No. 42.10 is from Tobermory (formerly Ledaig), the only distillery on the island of Mull, that is a part of Burn Stewart Distillers a part of CL World Brands. This was my first taste of something from Tobermory and it has left me intrigued.
The final sample was from Cask No. G2.2. The SMWSA coding system indicates that this is a grain whiskey. The tasting notes from the Society are as follows:
Once the largest grain whisky distillery in Scotland, it was closed and dismantled in 1983. Its make was never bottled by its owner and is very rare in indie bottlings. Jaunty for its age: ‘red patent-leather dancing pumps’ came to mind. A school art-room, with poster paint, Gloy glue, ink, vinyl and coated card – all behind vanilla fudge. Sweet and oaky to taste, with vanilla, coconut and light liquorice. With water it became a newly crafted coffin, wax-polished and resinous. A light texture and a short finish, with a hint of Murraymints and strong, lorry-drivers, tea, and condensed milk.
I found the “A vaudeville act” to have the following characteristics…
- Appearance: Golden yellow with good legs.
- Aroma: A lot of sugar and vanilla (cake frosting) with a little leather and a little tea leaves.
- Taste: Strong, with a lot of caramelized sugar and cigar ash and a fair amount heat in the long finish.
- Age: 35 Years
- Cask: Refill barrel
- ABV: 53.6%
While still cask strength, I found that it was very nice without water. With water, the sugar is heightened and butterscotch and toffee notes abound with a little coconut in the nose. The taste becomes less powerful and the cigar smoke moves to the forefront. The taste is still quite sweet but the nice, long finish is significantly, if not tragically, reduced. According to whiskyportal.com, Cask No. G2.2 is from Carsebridge, a grain distillery that was located in Clackmannanshire (in the Central Lowlands) that was once the largest in Scotland but sadly was closed since 1983 and dismantled in the early 1990’s. This sample must be from some of the last of the stock and at 35 years is one of the oldest whiskies that I have had the good fortune to taste.
Of the three, I liked the Carsebridge the best; followed by the Tobermory (with a healthy dose of water). I have had several Springbank offerings in the past (I was especially fond of the 27.76 Salty old dog, westering home), but this one was just a little off. I just couldn’t get passed what I found to be a peculiar finish.
Thanks again to Gabby Shayne (click here to meet The Whisky Sisters) of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America for sending us this sample.