This pack of samples was sent to me from the SMWS and is currently available to buy from the SMWS, link below, for £35.
This sample pack was to run with the 35th Anniversary of the SMWS and a live Facebook event which I couldn’t take part in at short notice.
So, for £35 you get five 3cl samples, seems expensive but let’s take a look and see if you’re getting value for money.
The five samples are as follows;
- Sweet black tea in the Sugary, which is a 21 Year Old Laphroaig 2nd fill ex-PX Hogshead.
- Without Pretence, this being a 22 Year Old Glen Moray 1st fill ex bourbon.
- In the dark of the abyss an unusual 11 Year Old from Glentauchers refill Oloroso butt.
- The Final Trawl this 15 Year Old Glen Scotia and finally.
- Cones vs Crones, sigh, a 10 Year Old from Loch Lomond.
So that’s the daft names out of the way, how’s the liquid?
Sweet black tea in the Sugary, 21 Year Old Laphroaig 2nd Fill ex-PX Hogshead 48.6%
I’m not a huge fan of laphroaig, I like a peaty whisky but the medical notes from Laphroaig probably remind me of working in a hospital a little too much, or something.
Very much needs a little water although I understand from Laphroaig fans it’s easy enough neat.
Nose. Iodine and black tea, strong black tea, greenhouses full of fertiliser and grow bags, strong whiff of charred barrels too.
Palate. Salty peanuts, charred barrels and stewed lapsang souchong, plum jam and liquorice allsorts.
Finish. Medium, medicinal and musty. It’s not really musty it’s more oaky but I liked the alliteration.
This isn’t my bag, I struggled on for you but I think if you liked Laphroiag you’d be all over this.
Without Pretence, this 22 Year Old Glen Moray from a 1st Bourbon barrel is a weighty 55.7%. The irony of the name isn’t lost on me but I wonder if this will be like the aged Glen Moray I’ve had before from a Bourbon barrel which just ended up tasting like a very nice bourbon.
A drop of water is needed to calm this down otherwise this is a bit fiery.
Nose. The huge vanilla note is a worrying start, then orange honey, wood shavings and some toffee notes.
Palate. Vanilla, toffee popcorn, a little bit of melted salted butter and a touch of clotted cream, some baked apples too, all the bourbon notes are here for sure.
Finish. Bourbon innit Guv’.
Once again, an aged Glen Moray from a bourbon barrel which ends up just being a bourbon, it’s very nice by the way, and I doubt you’d get a 22 Year Old Bourbon for under £100, which is more or less what this costs, but I think it loses some of the charm I’d expect from Glen Moray.
In the Dark of the Abyss, not a name which you would immediately link with a lovely dram by the fire but here we are with a 60.6% Glentauchers.
Wants water and a lifetime in the glass, at least an hour, but worth the wait.
Nose. Rich sticky toffee pudding, fig biscuits, some old leather chairs and a dash of mango chutney.
Palate. Medium bodied sherry with sugared almonds, dark orange chocolate, pickled ginger, orange rind, and a big bag of mixed nuts, all very pleasing.
Finish. Christmas cake mix in a glass, medium finish.
Best of the bunch and at £56 for a full bottle absolute bargain of a bottle.
The Final Trawl, a 15 Year Old Glen Scotia, bottled at 56.8% a less well known but equally worthy Campbeltown offering.
For something at 56.6% this really doesn’t need water, if it’s your thing then sure, it’s normally my thing, but this works well on it’s own and water, in my opinion, just softens it up a bit.
Nose. Old hospital wards again but softer than the Laphroaig, salty and coal, like a bonfire on a beach, seashells on the seashore? Maybe. Sweetness though, bitter chocolate covered in petrol sprinkled with some palm sugar.
Palate. Salty, creamy, sweetness, like a vanilla milkshake with some seawater splashed in, mint on the tongue, some barbecued meats and a touch of sweet pipe tobacco, some smoke and then some cough sweets to finish things off.
Finish. Long and lasting, with some lovely smoke and icing sugar.
This is decent, not a midweek sipper, more of a Sunday by the fire type of dram.
And finally, Crones vs Cones, or is it Cones vs Crones, no matter, it’s a 10 Year Old Highlander from Loch Lomond, bottled at 57.1% I prefer this with a touch of water, a teaspoon, no more, and even though it’s young it’s wanting a good 45 minutes in the glass.
Nose. Custard cream biscuits, strawberry icing sugar and rich sugary tea but something which develops over time to bring some aged balsamic and a touch of white pepper.
Palate. Touch of heat at first, it’s relatively youthful spirit comes through, candied ginger and candied oranges, little bit of coal dust oatcakes with jam and some hobnob goodness.
Finish. Some heat, little touch of sweetness and a sharp too swift finish.
Decent, maybe a bit expensive at just under £60 but a decent example of the expression.
So there we have it, five drams, all very different and an interesting mix.
As a pack it’s okay priced, it gives you a chance to see if the SMWS is worth joining as it shows a broader range of what they offer over the sample pack you receive when joining.
I’ll leave that final choice up to you.