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A Few Nasty Drams at SMWS

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A Few Nasty Drams at SMWS

Postby bamber » Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:16 am

All IMHO (with 2 witnesses :)):

Went to SMWS bar on Saturday afternoon and we had a real mixed bag of whiskies, with one verging on undrinkable and the other just plain horrible.

85.16 - 'Afternoon tea on the lawn'.
Thin and a bit too dry but fruity and complex enough to be fairly enjoyable.

10.57 - 'Burnt gingerbread'
Horrible. Really horrible. No-one could finish their drams of this - 'Sperm-trees' and fake maple syrup on the nose, with an unfortunately good transference to the palate.

30.50 - 'Fresh, fruity and enticingly sweet'
Enjoyed - spicy fruity and tasty. Nice rich flavour profile.

A 25yo Caol Ila recommended by the barman:
The peat is manifested as an astringent 'dirty public lavatory pong'. Nice mouth arrival but really nasty finish.

3 bourbons - all very good.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:40 am

Sounds like you've had a few awful drams Bamber. However, when I read most of the postings (including my own) on this forum I get the impression that we all taste almost nothing but stellar whiskies - Ledaig excluded! And maybe that's what we look for when we buy - but to taste the lesser whiskies is part of becoming informed I guess. How can one appreciate the really good whiskies without knowing the bad whiskies? Personally I've always been afraid of becoming blasè about wine (now whisky I guess) if I only enjoyed the best clarets. Every now and then you just have to the lesser ones while you keep your focus on the ordinary good level or the vin de table if you will. Same with whisky I suppose, if one doesn't adjust the palate to the ordinary good stuff one is bound to be disappointed with everthing but the most expensive and best whiskies. The question is what do you do when you get used to that level of whisky and you cannot get better whisky for your money?

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Postby bamber » Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:16 am

Hi Christian,
I agree, it is all part of the great whisky tapestry, but it does put me off buying any SMWS bottling without trying it first.

I certainly don't resent buying the drams, but it did ring a few alarm bells with me because this has been my least successful visit to a society bar yet.
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Mon Sep 26, 2005 12:13 pm

Hmm, youre sure you didnt had a "off day"?

I'm not too familiar with SMWS bottlings TBH, but I am familiar with an off-day nose. Having one of those simply means nothing tastes like it should be.

It happened to me more then once that a whisky that dissapointed me at a later date proved to be a more then average dram!

I also have a feeling off-day's are more easy to happen in establishments other then my own home. For example where people are or have been smoking. Is it allowed to smoke there?

Just my input =)
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Postby bamber » Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:11 pm

Hi Jeroen,
I don't think it was me personally, as my friends had very similar views . Also we had some Oban 14 and Lagavulin 12yo, when we got in, and they tasted as good as ever. It was not smokey either.

Honestly though, we did find the barman's manner grated on us a little and possibly that prejudiced our appreciation of the whiskies, but the 'Sperm tree' whisky - no no no no. Horrible.
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Postby hpulley » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:08 pm

Hey, I like Ledaig! Not had a bad one yet...

Harry
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:37 pm

:oops: .....I haven't tasted it myself - I just picked on a whisky with bad acclaims from the forum members.

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Postby hpulley » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:40 pm

Woe to he who commits false witness on whisky never quaffed ;)

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:43 pm

.....serves me right :lol:

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:00 pm

Had a Littlemill the other day, just so I could join the ranks of those trashing it. Somehow I survived!
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:18 pm

I suppose if everyone had the same tastes in whisky it would be a boring world , the only bad SMWS i can think of that i've had was a 20yo Isle of Jura , as for the ones mentioned i quite liked the 6yo Bunny and it seemed to go down ok at the tasting i done at Ardbeg during the festival . The Caol Ila is a good dram as well , as good as the O.B. 25yo . I recently spent a week-end at the Vaults and here are my notes for the drams , i even tried a few i wouldn't normally look at -
Friday night ....

First up was taken from the Staff choice list .
23.46 1989 15yo Bruichladdich 48.1%
A bright gold , it's a typical Laddie on the nose , lots of soft green fruits .
To me it had a lemon taste (Cheesecake) and it's finish was of Green apples . It's a good example of the laddie shame there was only 94 bottles from the cask .

Next up one from the current list
38.15 1976 28yo Caperdonich 51.2%
Pale gold in the glass (mind you the colours could be off as there were only table lamps on in the room !) . The nose was Fig rolls , the taste was a great surprise smoky , slight iodine , spicy and minty ! It had a very long finish , minty with slight smoke .

Onto 58.07 1977 27yo Strathisla 45.8%
This one was Mel's favourite on the Friday night , a pale gold colour , it was very-very Fruity on the nose with vanilla lurking in there as well . I had great trouble picking up tastes from this one but it was very good with a short , slight sherry finish .

Back to the Staff recommendations ....
61.22 1978 26yo Brora 57.2%
Bright gold in colour ,nostril clearing as Mel put it , this was a superb example of Brora , very medicinal and " a walk along the seashore" , the finish was very Looooooong and warming . Smokin' !

So to the last dram of the night , a return to the Cheesey Ardbeg (their words....)
33.54 1994 10yo Ardbeg 59.1%
A pale gold colour ,its the sweet peatiness that first catches the Nose ,theres a slight smoke/iodine background with fudge . Theres also the smell that first hits you when you arrive at this distillery ! Its not as "in yer face " peaty as usual bottlings from this distillery , a touch more smoother .Its on the finish where you get the peaty sweetness/smoke usually associated with this malt.

Saturday night.....
Started the Evening with a 62.12 1980 24yo Glenlochy 60.4%
Never had a Glenlochy before , A bright gold colour it seemed very floral and lemony on the nose , it was another one i had trouble with picking up the tastes , eventually got fudge . It was a very good sipping dram but nothing out of the ordinary .

124.1 1988 16yo Migagikyo 59.4%
A lovely Light amber in colour , the nose was loaded with Almonds , dried fruit and Candied peel .The taste was dry , spicy and christmas cake like, it had a short Warming finish . Another good example from a Japanese distillery .

Had to return to the 44.26 1982 22yo Craigellachie 60.5%
Bright gold in colour , it had the floralness of a speysider with a smoky background . It's smoky to taste with a medium finish that is very warming . Another real beaut up there with the 73 Rare malt .

Having finished off my list i now asked one of the barman for something he'd recommend , he gave me a 73.14 Aultmore ...didn't get anymore details
A bright gold colour , the nose was of Ice cream cornets and old bananas and the taste was again of bananas with vanilla , not a bad dram , but not as good as the one he next produced.........

From the SMWSa list 1.120 ? 1965 39yo Glenfarclas
A lovely mahogany colour but not from a sherry cask ! I love the old Farclases from the SMWS , The nose and taste was of the Cola cube type of sweets , absolutely delicious , a gem . the finish was Hmmmmmm......

And so to the penultimate one of the night
59.20 1981 20yo Teaninich
A gold colour , the nose was of peat , school plimsolls (new!) and that old chestnut " Bonfire on a beach" . The taste was phenolic , definitely peat , it could have been an Islay in disguise !

So to the last dram , i had to return to an old favourite that is still on the shelf ...
53.84 1983 21yo Caol Ila 60.2%
What can i say Bright gold , Germolene , briney , germolene What a long finish . Probably the best Caol ila in the world ? Ever !

Roll on Thursday night when we go to The Newcastle SMWS Speyside Tasting!
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Postby bamber » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:55 am

SOI,
True it would be a boring world if we all liked the same whiskies, but what can I tell you ? When you have three guys who drink SMS on a daily basis, literally girning at the prospect of another sip, there is something up !

I too have had some great whisky at the SMWS bars, but I've also had some very average ones. The Jura you mentioned was indeed very nasty (diesel I seem to remeber ?).

And if that 25yo Caol Ila is as good as the OB I'll be sure to avoid that one :)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Sep 27, 2005 12:44 pm

I have tried the Caperdonich and the Yoichi from the current list and found them both a little disappointing. I have never had whisky from either distillery before and the tasting notes sounded interesting.

The Caperdonich was complex, but was a little delicate. I couldn't work out exactly what it was trying to be and whilst there was a lot in there, it like listening to a symphony with the volume turned down. The finish didn't seem overly long.

I preferred the Yoichi as the flavours seemed to come through more strongly and create a more distinctive profile. There was a fruitiness underneath, and something a bit musty. It was quite weird.

The whiskies did have some similarities - minty and slightly smoky - but neither were a patch on the minty complexity of the Cadenhead's Pittyvaich. I wouldn't say they were bad malts, but not something I would go back for. Perhaps a full bottle would help to get to know them better, but I'll stick to the Pittyvaich.
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Postby Admiral » Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:15 pm

It's a shame, isn't it? I'd like to think that anything the SMWS cares to bottle MUST be good, but it seems they are just as capable as some of the other independents of bottling pretty ordinary whisky.

I recently participated in the tasting panel for deciding what the Australian branch of the SMWS was going to bring in for the next import.

We had a Bruichladdich and a Springbank that were both so TOTALLY devoid of flavour and character, I almost thought I was tasting coloured vodka.

I agree with the comment above.....generally speaking, I'm not prepared to buy a bottling unless I've tasted it first. (Although I have bought some blind previously.....Ardbeg comes to mind! :wink: :) )

Cheers,
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:31 pm

Don't get me wrong - you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I do like to be able to taste the outputs of obscure distilleries - even if their best may not be that good. I am glad they bottled the Yoichi and the Caperdonich - just as I am glad they bottled the Dufftown from a few lists back. If they only bottled world beating matls, I suspect the distillery codes would barely have reached double figures. But if the Bunnahabhain is as bad as Bamber thinks, then there is less justification as this is a commonly found distiller.

Out of interest, does anyone know whether the SMWS buys whisky when it is distilled or when it is bottled? If it is the former, could the SMWS offload the poorer whiskies to blenders or is it stuck with the original purchases, however good or bad they turn out to be?
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Sep 27, 2005 5:52 pm

Like i said it would be a funny old world if we all liked/disliked the same malts .
Re- the Bunny . looked back in my notes it was the 10.56 i done at the tasting but i have had the 57 and it wasn't as good but still dramable .
Re - Caol ila , if it wasn't for the SMWS bottlings i would have given up on Caol Ila , quite frankly i found the F&F , 12 and 18yo extremely boring ! I prefer the medicinalness of the Single cask bottlings better , the aforementioned O.b.'s seem to kill this , apart from the 25yo .
Regarding the purchasing of their casks i think it's a mixture , the 10.56/10.57/33.57 were (empty Gorda ) casks purchased by the SMWS so were presumably filled by them with new spirit . They have casks at Bruichladdich in the warehouses marked SMWS which were filled since the change of ownership ( i've seen the PC ones....) and i know that some casks have been purchased just prior to bottling .

Admiral , all Springbanks are TOTALLY devoid of flavour and character arn't they ? LOL ! :lol:

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Postby bamber » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:11 pm

SOI,
I agree, generally SMWS Caol Ila's are fantastic and I always seek them out. I also agree that the OB's are boring by comparison. However, Caol Ila is the favourite distillery of one of the guys I went with and it was for him that I purchased the Caol Ila dram. It was therefore even more of a let down that we did not care for it much.

Talking of different tastes, his favourite whisky is the Caol Ila 18yo. He picks this over a load of far better (IMO) IB's that we've shared.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:16 am

I agree wholeheartedly with the SMWS Caol Ilas....they've been absolutely sensational. I recall a 9yo bottling about 12-18 months ago that was just sensational.

The 18yo OB comes across as a bit too dry and astringent for my liking.

Cheers,
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Re: A Few Nasty Drams at SMWS

Postby patrick dicaprio » Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:41 pm

bamber wrote:All IMHO (with 2 witnesses :)):

Went to SMWS bar on Saturday afternoon and we had a real mixed bag of whiskies, with one verging on undrinkable and the other just plain horrible.

85.16 - 'Afternoon tea on the lawn'.
Thin and a bit too dry but fruity and complex enough to be fairly enjoyable.

10.57 - 'Burnt gingerbread'
Horrible. Really horrible. No-one could finish their drams of this - 'Sperm-trees' and fake maple syrup on the nose, with an unfortunately good transference to the palate.

30.50 - 'Fresh, fruity and enticingly sweet'
Enjoyed - spicy fruity and tasty. Nice rich flavour profile.

A 25yo Caol Ila recommended by the barman:
The peat is manifested as an astringent 'dirty public lavatory pong'. Nice mouth arrival but really nasty finish.

3 bourbons - all very good.


maybe it is me, but after i read your post i looked at my own tasting notes. most of the SMWSA whiskies i have had either ramk very highly or very lowly, there were very few in the middle. i wonder why that is? also there were more closer to the bottom than the top. very curious and considering that i am due for a new bottle it gives me pause to think.

Pat
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Postby bamber » Wed Sep 28, 2005 2:14 pm

The SMWS is a great concept and I'll unquestionably be renewing my subscription. The variable whiskies are part of the fun I guess and this is no problem at tastings or the bar. But when you're buying a whole bottle it's a different story.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:32 pm

Thought i'd let you'd know about last night tasting ......
Once again we had a wonderful night at The Old Assembly Rooms in the Company of the SMWS tasting squad (also known as Stephen and Dave !) .
It was a bit of a departure to the usual tastings we go to as it was an All Speyside Tasting , there weren't as many as usual attending (about 35) and instead of 1 glass all night we got each malt in a seperate glass , which meant we could compare (a good thing when they're all from the same area ) .
First one of the night was a Cragganmore ( 37.24 , 18yo , 59.1% , June 1986 , 183 bottles , £49 ) .
From a Refill Hoggie , a golden syrup colour , the nose was floral and lemon . It was hot and smoky on the palate with a long warming finish , with water it was a very smoky beast . A damn fine dram , shame the bog standard bottling isn't as good .

No.2 was a Glenlivet ( 2.60 , 16yo , 56.7% , June 1988 , 506 Bottles , £43 ) . From a Refill butt , a light bronze colour , it was toffee and wood on the nose . The taste was hot , candied peel with a long and warming finish .

Next up was Mel's Favourite of the night , a "museum" piece from Dallas Dhu ( 45.14 , 29yo , 52% , Aug 1975 , 189 bottles , £73 ) .
Bright Gold from a Refill Barrel , it was Chocolate Orange on the nose with a sweet orange onthe palate . It had a medium warming finish , a crackin' dram excellent for it's age .

The 4th Speysider was an ancient Longmorn ( 7.28 , 36yo , 52.1% , Dec 1968 , 467 bottles , £98 ) . when i first looked at the tasting list provided this was the one i was least looking forward too , from a sherry butt it was a deep Mahogany colour . The nose was oloroso and Christmas cake (especially raisins ) , the taste was dark sherry , dark fruits and the usually "Liquid" Christmas cake . The finish was long and sherried , this one reminded me of the Signatory 1967 Ardbegs but without the smoke , a very good dram ....surprisingly .

Last one of the night was a 20yo Ardmore (66.18 , 20yo , 53.7% , March 1985 , 315 bottles , £58 ) , i was looking forward to this one , i was given it's sister cask so it was a chance to compare and contrast . a burnished gold in colour it was lemon with a slight smoke on the nose . The taste was smoky , slightly citric with peat eventually coming through . It had a Long Citric , smoky finish . A good dram but not as good as the 66.19 .

I think it was a toss up between the Dallas Dhu and the Longmorn for me with the Cragganmore just slightly behind them on the night . A good night (for speysiders .....) , looking forward to the 3 day SMWS Newcastle marathon in November now .

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Postby Admiral » Sat Oct 01, 2005 1:53 pm

The 4th Speysider was an ancient Longmorn ( 7.28 , 36yo , 52.1% , Dec 1968 , 467 bottles , £98 ) . when i first looked at the tasting list provided this was the one i was least looking forward too


Hi Gordon,

I tried that particular Longmorn a month or two ago. I thought it was bloody spectacular!!!! One of the best "old" malts I've ever tried! Everything good that you would expect in an old whisky, and none of the bad things!

Cheers,
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