Independent Bottlers Scotch Malt Whisky Society Scotland Speyside Region Strathisla Distillery Whisky from 50 to 100 euros

SMWS In a Sunny Lemon Grove

Review of a cask strength bottling from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Gradation: 62.4%ABV
Ageing cask: Ex-Bourbon second fill
Chillfiltered: No
Added coloring: No
Owner: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Average price: € 52.00
Official website: www.smws.com
Vote: 87/100

It was in the late 1970s when Phillip “Pip” Hills travelled the length and breadth of the Scottish Highlands, tasting whisky directly from the casks of various distilleries and being deeply impressed: at the time, cask strength bottlings were anything but common, and Hills’ “discovery” was therefore highly original.
In 1978 he and some friends decided to buy a cask from Glenfarclas, followed by several other casks that were bottled and sold to members of the small club they had founded.
In 1983 the club opened its doors to the public under its present name, and bought a premises in Leith, The Vaults, named for the wine cellars said to date back as far as the twelfth century, where rooms for members of the club are still to be found.
With a membership funding campaign, they also acquired a London office in 1996 and one in Edinburgh in 2004, which also coincided with Glenmorangie taking over ownership of the association, which would return to private hands eleven years later.
Other offices were later opened in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society boasts members all over the world, with a network of establishments where members can get a free dram from one of their bottles.
Because obviously the tradition of bottling whisky has continued and expanded, with single cask, single malt, blended but also grain and other spirits, which are given evocative and peculiar names, indicating on the label, in addition to tasting notes, region of origin, age and barrels of aging without explicitly stating the distillery of origin, assigning a specific code to each bottle to trace its origin.
In the bottle in question (which at the time of writing only exists as a sample for the August tasting pack) the code is 58.38, where 38 indicates the progression of bottlings from the same distillery and 58… well, I’d say you already have a clue! Anyway, here is an updated table.
Single cask distilled in September 2012 and bottled in 2020 (7 years, then) at cask strength.

Tasting notes

Straw yellow in the glass.
The first thing that strikes you is the alcohol, or rather its total absence on the nose: over 60 degrees and it isn’t perceived at all! The whole is instead very fresh and lemony, with floral and herbaceous reflections on notes of vanilla, green apple, pineapple, kiwi, peach, tangerine. Impression of dark chocolate candied fruit. Light without being evanescent.
On the palate, the high alcohol content reminds you to make yourself felt without being scorching, maintaining the refreshing and floral tones of the nose with the accompaniment of marzipan, vanilla, honey, tropical fruit (pineapple, mango), citrus, glazed cereals and always a lot of lemon. Hints of leather and tobacco in the background spread over the wood.
Medium-long finish, with hazelnuts, honey, pineapple, leather and wood.

A very young, full-bodied whisky that surprises with its gentleness and ability to maintain summer tones while retaining character and body. In the (as always) eccentric official tasting notes they talk about sorbet, and in fact they didn’t get very far.

Reviews of Strathisla whisky in the blog:
Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 2006
Strathisla 12yo (old version)

Reviews of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society whisky in the blog:
SMWS A shape-shifting chimera
SMWS: April 2021 Outturn
SMWS Magical Fairy Dust
SMWS Nectar In a Hip Flask
SMWS Pomegranate Gremolata
SMWS Tarry Tarry Night
SMWS The Peat Faerie 7yo Batch 04
SMWS Uncle Monty Goes Burgling

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