SMWS 1.192

SMWS 1-192

SMWS 1.192 – Syrup Sponge in a Lumberjack’s Pocket

This SMWS bottling is from a Genfarclas distillery cask.  The whisky was aged for 22 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead cask.   It was bottled in 2015 at 56% ABV.

I always enjoy the rich descriptions of the SMWS tasting notes.  Here is what they had to say about SMWS 1.192.

“This dram smelled like a barista’s apron (coffee,brown sugar,chocolate) with further sweetness of honey, cinder toffee, dried dates, apricot jam and syrup-smothered pancakes, but always balanced by polished wood and a sawmill wrapped in Fablon. Waves of sweetness flooded the mouth-toffee,salted chocolate,honey,boiled sweets and lollipops and it had very attractive cigar box goodness. The reduced nose continued the wood and sweetness theme – syrup sponge pudding a lumberjack’s pocket. honey nut cornflakes (including the sunshine), butterscotch and maple syrup- completely sensual and elegant. The reduced palate was deliciously tasty and sophisticated- candy floss and passion -fruit.”

Not surprisingly, I find a different mix of elements in my tasting notes. There is a sweetness here, but more citrus based, I get scents of orange and apricot.   There is also a light peat smoke element.  As one who is fond of Glenfarclas whisky, I do find here is a real familiarity in the nose, just not as much of a sherry element.

The first sip is a strong reminder that this is bottled at cask strength.  The aggressive burn of 56% ABV brings a sweet, hot, spicy first wave to the palate.  Under that, as the burn subsides, I taste orange-chocolate, cinnamon, and light smoke.  The mix of light peat, spice, and sweet fruit lingers, I suspect it is that combination that contributes to the “Syrup Sponge in a Lumberjack’s Pocket” descriptor. The finish is medium-to-long.

When I add water, I find even more familiarity with a Glenfarclas whisky profile.  On the nose there is a bit more complexity, maybe adding a little vanilla.  On the palate, less burn brings out more of the spicy elements, and adds butterscotch to the flavor mix.  On the finish, I find elements of liquorice flavor added. Overall, this is a whisky that benefits from adding a little water, cutting the cask strength enhances the flavor profile while still delivering a strong whisky punch.

I read that there were only 264 bottles of this fun whisky.  I will enjoy my good fortune of having acquired one.

Glenfarclas 21


Glenfarclas 21.  43% ABV.

I have had this bottle for a while now, one that I picked up at Dundee Dell in Omaha.   I had been looking to acquire a Glenfarclas 17, but at the time they were out of stock and offered the Glenfarclas 21.  I recall that I was not very impressed with this variation at the time, but since I had not yet written up any tasting notes, it seemed like a good time to revisit my assessment.

It has an understated nose, with hints of sherry, orange and raisin.  This whisky is very subdued on first sip, barley with a dash of sherry.  Even for the 43% ABV, it comes across light initially, with the flavor profile opening up slowly on the palate.  It unfolds with dry fruit, malt, a little spice, with smoke on the back end.  The finish is short, some spice and smoke.  It is a very smooth, gentle sipping, dram.

I do not know what it is, but this Genfarclas 21 does not reach the level that I associate with the Glenfarclas 17.  It just seems very tame, neither offensive nor particularly appealing.

Then again, there may be some who want what seems to me to be single malt whisky-light.  It is not too expensive, particularly for the age range.  Just do not come to this whisky if you want big sherry, or other big notes.

Macallan 18


Macallan 18. ABV 43%.

I have had this whisky for a while now, just back visiting it again.

The sherry emphasis is evident at first exposure to the senses.  The nose is bright, ginger, chocolate and cherry notes.  On first sip, I find this to be very rich on the palate, sweet sherry, rum and spice, warm chocolate.  It is a smooth, mature, and well balanced whisky.  The finish is medium-long, still sherry dominant, a bit of salty caramel and toasted oak.

The sherry is present in this whisky from the nose to the finish.  As my taste preferences have evolved, I find myself spending less time with sweeter expressions like this one.  But, it is a classic, rich, example of a sherried Speyside whisky.

It was not an inexpensive whisky when I acquired it, and the current prices are significantly higher.  I am not likely to purchase another Macallan 18, there are other options that can deliver similar profile at half the price.

Longmorn 16

Longmorn 16.  ABV 48%.  Non-Chill Filtered.  Color added.

A gentle nose of apple and spice, perhaps raisins.   On the palate it is dry, citrus and ginger, with minor spice notes, and a lingering caramel element.  The finish is warming and medium.

This whisky has a smoothness that reflects the maturity through the gentle unfolding of flavors.  I found myself shifting my assessment of the flavor with successive sips, no dominating element.  It does not have the sweet Sherry influences that I find to be characteristic of many Speyside single malts.   It is a dryer, but in no way harsh, whisky.

The bottle comes with a leather strip around the base.  I am not sure what the intent was, and it matters little to me what is on the outside of a whisky bottle.

This is an easy whisky to sip.  For the age, it is reasonably priced.  Then again, reasonable is a shifting standard in today’s single malt whisky market.  If you are looking for a whisky that dominates the palate, that has aggressive elements, then skip this one.  If you want a good, dry, smooth whisky with subtle flavor, then you might find Longmorn 16 a good investment.

Macallan Edition No. 2

Macallan Edition No. 2.  ABV 48.2%.   Non-chill filtered.

The Macallan Edition No. 2 is a non-aged statement single malt that is finished in a combination of sherry casks. This whisky is marketed as a collaboration of Macallan whisky makers along with chef’s and sommelier from a famous Spanish restaurant.  The casks and associated influences are detailed on the packaging:

  • Diego Martin casks, green wood and toffee
  • Vasyma American Oak casks, light vanilla and citrus
  • Jose Miguel Martin, spicy ginger
  • Tevasa cask, dried fruit and sherry

The color is a deep amber, and the nose comes across as sweet floral, with influences of toffee and possibly ginger.  It is sweet, but lighter and fruitier than I find with the standard Macallan.   On the palate it is initially spicy, with a little pepper, but that soon transitions to pear and ginger.  A delicate sweetness that lingers.  The finish is medium, slightly warming, but overall a balanced mix of pear, ginger and maybe a little blood orange.  A smooth dram given the relative youth of this whisky.

I find this to be a very pleasant and enjoyable whisky.  For my tastes, it infuses just enough flavors from the sherry casks to add character, without it being overly sweet.   If you are a fan of Macallan 18, you might find it too light on the Sherry elements.  And, clearly, it is not as polished and refined as the more aged whisky.  But, it has the core character of a Macallan whisky, just with a refreshing light twist.

Of course, I also have to add, that this is a reasonably priced whisky.  I have not purchased the more aged offerings lately, but I suspect you could easily buy four bottles of Macallan Edition No. 2 for the price of one Macallan 18.  I know which one I would select.

Macallan 25


Not my usual tasting observations this time.  As you can see from the photo, I am down to my last couple drams of my bottle of Macallan 25.   I hope to share the final sips with a good friend who was instrumental in this particular single malt finding it’s way into my collection.  At the time, he and a few other work colleagues pitched-in to purchase this bottle at what – for the time – was a pretty steep price tag.

It is an exceptional single malt, well balanced and mature, with the sherry infused sweetness you would expect from a Macallan – and many other Speyside single malts – rich flavors on the palate, and a long refined finish.

But, as much as I enjoy it, this will be the last of Macallan 25 for me.  The current price for a bottle here is $1,649!   Something in the neighborhood of a four-fold increase in recent years.  In a good bar, a dram will cost you more than a bottle of many outstanding single malt whiskys.  I do not know how much of it is supply and demand, and how much is aggressive pricing by Macallan.  The Macallan 12 remains a very good single malt at a reasonable price, but things quickly jump into the ridiculous range for other Macallan bottles.   Even the non-age statement Rare Cask is selling for $300, about twice the cost other heavy sherry infused non-age statement whiskeys from top producers (such as, Highland Park Dark Origins).

I have read that the supply of aged single malt stock is declining, leading both to more non-age statement offerings and higher prices for the older bottles.  Yet, even in this environment, Macallan appears to be out of line – particularly when there are so many other good whisky choices.

SMWS 76.118

SMWS 76.118SMWS 76.118, We Love Whisky, non-chill filtered, 49.5 % ABV.

Another of the offerings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.  This one, from a single cask from Mortlach, a Speyside distillery.  This Whisky has been aged 27 years, dating back to 1987.  The Society classifies this whisky falling into the broad category of “Sweet, fruity and mellow”.

The nose is very pleasant, with sweet and floral notes.  I find elements of toffee and citrus underneath the clear single malt character.  The first sip is more aggressive on the palate than the nose would suggest.  A reminder that it is, after all, a whisky.  The palate entry is spicy, with pepper.  A second and third sip bring out more fruit and citrus elements as the initial spicy overlay mellows.  The finish is medium to long, with a lingering warmth, and subdued peat.

I wonder, if on first sip, that I look a bit like an owl … my eyes large in reflection of the surprise at the first introduction to the palate.  This whisky has the maturity of aging, that brings a refinement in the overall experience.  It is smooth and sophisticated.  A whisky that is likely to appeal to many, and disappoint few.

It would go very well with a little cheese, I am thinking a nice ash cheese, a few crackers, and some apple slices.