One of the first things you’ll notice about their bottles is the strange number/title denomination. To explain, let’s consider 48.29 – Satisfyingly Sweet. The first part of the numerical id is the distillery number and the second part is the cask number. In this convention, 48.29 would be the 29th cask they bottled from the 48th distillery, which in this case, happens to be a 12 year old first-fill barrel. The worded part of the title is meant to describe the whisky and can manifest anywhere between pragmatic to over-enthusiastically whimsical. This one’s title is pretty straightforward, but trying to guess what a Continuous Snowfall of Curiosities tastes like could easily befuddled the unimaginative. Either way, I really dig the style.
The sterile, numerical designation and fun titles focus on the atypical nature of single casks and distracts you, temporarily, from thinking about the official house-style associated with the distillery. It’s not completely anonymous though; for those who can’t stand not-knowing, Google can provide you with a quick list of their distillery codes. According to those sources, this one is from Balmenach.
To an astute whisky drinker the detailed labels and cask pedigree can reveal a lot about what one might expect, but the SMWS goes the extra mile and provides extremely lavish tasting notes to accompany their bottles. Like the titles, the notes can range from romantic vignettes about the contents, to simple stream-of-consciousness flavors and aromas. I enjoyed reading their take on the samples almost as much as I enjoyed drinking them.
Unfortunately, that dreamy fugue quickly turned to anxiety. What could I write that, by comparison, wouldn’t make it painfully obvious I’m a total hack? The official notes are mouth watering! Thankfully, the whisky was so distracting that I quickly forgot there were notes at all.
Nose: Such sweet. So satisfy. Cherry cheese danish, spearmint leaf jelly candies and watermelon. Chicken fried steak plated over a handful of crystal malt. Like laying in a grassy field as a cool breeze drifts by. Perfume department mannequin. Dusty for moments in between tumultuous, molasses-glazed fruits. Sugar toast and passion fruit.
Palate: It’s peppery, but there’s more than enough sweetness to balance it out. Tangy malic acid. Tingly and cooling like the mint leaf jelly candies from the nose. Mouthwatering with Splenda and Juicy Fruit gum. Pear, pineapple, and kiwi. The Splenda pushes through to the sweet, peppery finish. The finish does most of its work in the mouth and very gently makes it down into the chest.
This is a delicious single cask offering that absolutely lives up to its name, plus, the pseudo-anonymous numbering system sings to my latent, neurotic desire to systematically collect sequential numbers of things.
Thank you, Gabrielle Shayne and the US branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, for the sample.