This is a 19 year Highland Park from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 53.9% ABV.
Nose: Delicate balance of heather and floral notes up front followed by apricot jam, motor oil, and turning fairly malty after a few minutes.
Palate: Smoked fish with pear chutney, nice level of peat balanced against some fairly strong oak and seaweed.
Finish: Sweeter here as pear and peach notes poke through the peat/oak veil – fairly long finish.
Rating: 87/100 – A pretty standard, if not slightly better than average, ex-bourbon Highland Park.
Value for the money: This ran $160 through the US SMWS, and that’s not too bad of a price (especially for SMWS). I’m not sure I’d buy a bottle, but wouldn’t be too disappointed if I had at that price.
This is a 29 year Longmorn from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was distilled in 1985 and aged in an refill ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 58.5% ABV.
Nose: Very musty malt with notes of pine up front – pears, peaches, strawberries, and wax candies develop shortly after. Crushed mint leaves and french vanilla show up as it sits a bit longer.
Palate: Great thick and oily mouthfeel – earthy malt bolstered by strawberry jolly ranchers, cantaloupe, and faint notes of heather.
Finish: Vanilla, honey, and black pepper.
Rating: 88/100 – A solid older Longmorn that doesn’t rely on heavy sherry influence to shine.
Value for the money: This one came out a couple years ago, and I don’t remember what it cost at release when we split it, but I’d venture to guess based on typical pricing this was probably around $240 or so. I wouldn’t want to buy a full bottle at that price.
This is a 25 year Glen Grant aged in an ex-sherry refill butt and bottled at 57.5% ABV.
Nose: Quite malty with loads of heather and fresh grass notes – some plum developing alongside a healthy dose of bread dough.
Palate: Doughy with harsh oak and a cotton note – quite dry with heather and malt remaining strong.
Finish: Dries out quickly with dough notes lingering.
Rating: 80/100 – A bit dry all around – very little indication on nose/palate of any sherry involvement.
Value for the money: The retail was around $220 for this one but I saw it on sale closer to $180 at one point. I would pass at either price.
This is a 25 year Craigellachie that was matured in a refill hogshead and bottled at 52.2% ABV.
Nose: Big briny notes up front with a bright malt – strikes me very much like a Talisker on initial impression. Oak quite young on the nose with heavy beeswax and rose petals. Vanilla and a bit of mango emerge after a few minutes.
Palate: Quite woody with some pineapple and peach. Very floral malt dripping with honey with some grassy notes in there.
Finish: Tropical fruits prominent initially as the oak fades – turns slighly bitter once the peach notes fade away.
Rating: 92/100 – This was a pleasant surprise as my experience with Craigellachie has been limited and not that memorable. I’m a sucker for tropical fruit notes in malts and this one has them in the right places. A very well rounded malt.
Value for the money: These are currently $220 on the SMWS shop, and I think that’s a very fair price. I will most likely grab one before they’re gone.
This is an 11 year Glenmorangie from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was matured in a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel and bottled at 59.3% ABV.
Nose: Peach gummy rings, coconut flakes, strawberry pie, eucalyptus, camphor oil, and some pine like notes from the barrel.
Palate: Heavy peach notes up front again with vanilla, dried herbs, fresh whipped cream, and a bit of acetone.
Finish: Peach and mint linger with dry oak and some hop like notes.
Rating: 87/100 – Very nice to try a Glenmorangie at cask strength (albeit a young one). Loved the big peach notes throughout as I tend to go crazy for stonefruit in malts – would’ve loved to try this at 18+.
Value for the money: The SMWS price was $160 which is steep (even for their pricing) for an 11 year malt. However, this is the first cask strength Glenmorangie IB I’ve seen, and as a fan of their malt, it was worth it for me to at least split a bottle. Having tried it, I wouldn’t pay full price for a bottle, but would consider buying around $100 if it were available in stores.
This is a 22 year Springbank from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was matured in a first fill ex-sherry hogshead and bottled at 52.6% ABV.
Nose: Strong sherry combined with Springbank funk makes for a weird combo full of fruity bubblegum, grassy malt, wormwood, and a strong barley note.
Palate: Christmas spices, dark sherry, banana toffee, creme brulee, yeasty – fairly closed off, but opens up a bit over time.
Finish: Sherry dries out with antique oak and leather coming to forefront along with some heather.
Rating: 87/100 – The heavy sherry influence blends with the Springbank’s funky qualites in an interesting way, but I wish it was a bit brighter/more open.
Value for the money: Guessing this retailed around $220+ at SMWS when it was released, and I’m honestly not sure if I’d buy a bottle at that price or not. Springbank always runs a premium in terms of pricing, but I’d be curious to see how this one changes over time. Given the increased price of the Springbank 21 OB these days, I’d say this makes a good buy for a Springbank of this age.
This is a 16 year Springbank from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was matured in a refill gorda and bottled at 58.3% ABV.
Nose: Heavy butyric acid notes with some burnt plastic mixed with a very sweet sherry.
Palate: Superb mouthfeel – again lots of butyric acid here turning yeasty as a very meaty sherry develops. Funky but interesting.
Finish: Acid lingers with buttered white bread and a very thick sherry.
Rating: 90/100 – One of the funkiest Springbanks I’ve had, but something kept me coming back to it.
Value for the money: This likely retailed around $180+ when they came out, and I’d probably buy one at that price.
This is a 13 year Springbank from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was matured in a refill sherry hogshead and bottled at 53.9% ABV.
Nose: Butyric acid, overripe bananas, funky sherry, antique/musty oak, sour fruits.
Palate: Sour sherry gone slightly vinegar like with sawdust, tart fruits, and more Springbank funk.
Finish: Thick raspberries heavy on the sour side with damp wood chips and funky malt.
Value for the money: Not sure what this retailed for when it came out – I would guess $150-$175 or so, and I’m not sure I’d buy a bottle at that price.
This is a 25 year Clynelish expression from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was matured in an ex-sherry refill butt and bottled at 48.9% ABV.
Nose: Spiced pears topped with brown sugar, lavender, damp oak with a tiny tinge of smoke, and subtle berries.
Palate: Big, waxy apples drizzled with honey, cardamom, freshly baked wheat bread, and a bit of pear.
Finish: Kick of black pepper with cinnamon coated baked apples.
Rating: 89/100 – These 25+ year Clynelishes from the Society have been very consistently good in my experience thus far.
Value for the money: This is an older bottling that sold out long ago, but typically these 25+ Clynelishes retail around $250-$290 from the Society, and I think they make a pretty solid buy given their consistency/quality.
This is a 23 year Clynelish from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was matured in an ex-bourbon refill barrel and bottled at 48.5% ABV.
Nose: Waxy pears and wildflower honey followed by some lavender and chamomile. Wisps of smoke with vanilla develop after a minute with brown sugar and maple syrup.
Palate: Spiced honey with crisp honeydew melon and sugar cookies. Turns rather floral after a bit and maintains a rather diverse bouquet of floral notes throughout.
Finish: Dried herbs and old oak with subtle nutmeg and stonefruit.
Rating: 91/100 – One of the more floral heavy Clynelish’s I’ve had, but it’s always nice having something that diverges from the typical waxy fruit profile of their’s.
Value for the money: I’m guessing this retailed for about $200 when it was released last year, and I’d be content with a bottle at that price.