Following the exploration of three independent bottlings from Bowmore, let’s now venture into the realm of another venerable distillery: Balblair. As I’ve previously expressed, Balblair holds a special place in my heart, and because of that, it was the very first distillery I had the pleasure of visiting in Scotland. Similar to our journey with Bowmore, we’ll delve into independent bottlings, this time featuring four indy Balblair expressions from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Kintra, Cadenhead’s and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.Read more
Despite the burgeoning French whisky scene and the significant strides made by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in diversifying beyond the confines of ‘Scotch’ whisky, it wasn’t until 2023 that they ventured into bottling a French whisky. This trend isn’t unique to SMWS; a cursory glance at Whiskybase reveals a scant number of independent bottlers featuring products from Warenghem Distillery. This underrepresentation is regrettable, given my experience with over 40 whiskies tried from Warenghem, many of which were very good, and sometimes just properly exquisite though sadly elusive. Turning to SMWS and their foray into French whisky, it’s notable that their debut choice was Warenghem, renowned for their Armorik single malt. Let’s delve into the Armorik 2014 157.1 SMWS, marking a significant milestone as the first French whisky featured by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.Read more
Independent bottlings from Ardbeg are a rarity, especially those unmistakeably bearing the distillery’s name. According to Whiskybase, a mere nine independent bottlings of Ardbeg graced the market in 2023. The bulk of Ardbeg’s output tends to stay in-house, contributing to their core range, a handful of notably expensive single casks, and sought-after limited editions like the Ardbeg Day releases (which we’ll be delving into shortly). As a fan of Ardbeg and with fond memories of my first visit to their Islay distillery, I’m delighted to compare two independent bottlings side by side in this review. So, without further delay, let’s explore the Ardbeg Ar5 from Speciality Drinks, released in 2014, and the Ardbeg 2007 33.140 bottled by the SMWS at the end of 2023.Read more
The month of May brings with it a vibrant whisky festival season, and the SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) takes advantage of this occasion by releasing special small batches specifically crafted for these festivals. These unique releases feature larger quantities compared to their usual single casks. To ensure that a multitude of whisky enthusiasts can savour these expressions, the SMWS organises a virtual whisky tasting event. They offer a festival pack containing five samples, which participants can enjoy alongside SMWS ambassadors during an online session. Now, let’s explore the selection of five drams that the SMWS has chosen for their May 2023 Virtual Festival.Read more
We’re back to a Scotch Malt Whisky Society review, with this Port Charlotte 2001 from their Vault collection. We had a younger PC last year with a 2003 Hidden Spirits that was beautiful, so expectations were high with this one. I use the past as I’ve already tasted it a few weeks ago, after purchasing the bottle for a friend, who almost immediately opened it and shared it. Let’s jump to the review of this Port Charlotte 2001 SMWS 127.45 Leviathan, I can’t wait to taste it again.Read more
Yesterday 30th of September was the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Global Gathering 2022 event. It’s virtual tasting with John McCheyne, SMWS’s global brand ambassador, and he was joined by five people who were part of the selection of the five drams of the night. Each dram was selected by a tasting panel from a specific country, and chose a name for it in their own language. Then, each dram’s tasting was led by the local brand ambassador, starting… in his or her native language. As it started with the whisky selected by the French panel, some people who joined a bit late were quite surprised to hear the tasting in French, before realising it would switch back in English a few minutes later. Obviously, I had ordered a tasting pack in order to join, so let’s go review those five whiskies chosen for the SMWS Global Gathering 2022.Read more
weeks months ago (I’m late again to publish an article, what a surprise!), the Scotch Malt Whisky Society released a few single malts not as single casks, for once, but as small batches, small vattings of a few casks, for the different whisky festivals of the first half of 2022. For each region of Scotland, in a whisky sense, they released one or several bottlings, all of course with a higher outturn than usual. I ordered a tasting pack containing five out of the six releases, and I also bought a bottle of the sixth one, a Bowmore, so now, let’s review them all. And whilst previously it was Ainulindale reviewing SMWS bottlings, this time it’s my turn!
Dailuaine is one of the numerous Diageo distilleries located in Speyside. In 1852, William Mackenzie founded Dailuaine, but died only 13 years later. His widow leased the distillery to a banker from Aberlour, James Fleming. After Mackenzie’s son and Fleming founded Mackenzie and Company in 1879, it evolved in 1891 into Dailuaine-Glenlivet Distillery Ltd. A few years later in 1989, Dailuaine merged with Talisker and formed Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd (nice couple isn’t it?). Unfortunately, in 1915 Thomas Mackenzie dies without heir and the next year, Dailuaine-Talisker is bought by its previous customers John Dewars & Sons, John Walker & Sons et James Buchanan & Co (nope, not “& Sons”, sorry). After a fire, a closure, and a reopening, it’s bought in 1925 by Distillers Company Limited (DCL) that will later become the company known today as Diageo. Fast forward nowdays, Dailuaine is still active and has a capacity of 5.2 million litres of pure alcohol per annum.
The bottle we review today is a 11-year-old Dailuaine bottled by SMWS under the number 41.104 and the name “Some like it hot”. It was released in 2018 in the Spicy and Sweet category. Matured in an refill bourbon barrel, it was distilled on the 23rd March of 2006. Bottled at cask strength at 58.1% abv, it gave an outturn of 186 bottles.Read more
Early september, I discovered there was events where you could taste SMWS whiskies as well as cigars – and boy what that an excellent discovery.
This time around, the French ambassadors reached out to me and asked me whether I would be interested in an “exclusive” session where we would taste a whisky selected just for France – SMWS 7.217 – Joie de vivre. This session would again be at Gentleman 1919, which I’m starting to love more and more.
Obviously, I accepted – and I can only thank them for that as I missed the Whisky Live due to friends having the bad idea of having their wedding that week-end. This was then the occasion for me to forget about the sheer pain it caused and soothe my broken heart by downing some drams.Read more
When I joined the SMWS, I first did it as I wanted to partake of some cask strength unfiltered goodness. Obviously, for a whisky aficionado, this is one of the good places to be a member of.
Then, at one random point in time I realised there was an “event” category on the website where things were actually organised. I remember thinking – surely there’s nothing in Paris. Boy, was that a stupid thought. You can find the full account of my first SMWS tasting session here.
This time around, yet another discovery: I realised there were events in a small committee at a Speakeasy where whiskies were paired with cigars. My blood just went boiling at the sheer idea of the combination of both, being a fan of cigars (H. Upmann & Romeo y Julieta in particular if you wish to know).
So I purchased my ticket and eagerly went to Gentleman 1919, in Paris, a quite excellent venue. It was 21h. I got back home at 1h45. Here’s why.Read more