Time for my second review. I was going to pick something from my shelf, but then I noticed that the SMWS London whisky show mini pack (pictured below) was on sale, but that there were only 27 out of 390 packs left. I have a review for the whiskies this pack, so I thought that I’d best get it up pronto in case anyone was thinking of buying.
The pack comes in a lovely box and contains 4 10cl bottles of single cask, non-chill filtered, uncoloured, cask strength whisky. Good start. Here is a picture
The whiskies include a 9 year old Balmenach, a 14 year old Bowmore, an 18 year old Invergordon and a 22 year old Craigellachie. I was given this kit in order to take part in a twitter tasting as part of the excellent http://www.thewhiskywire.com series of online tastings. The price to buy is £52.50 but you have to be a SMWS member and you have to be quick (only 27 left). Skip to the end to see my opinion of the value of this box of drams, but without further ado, here are the 4 sets of dram stats:
48.33 ‘Marshmallows and chocolate eclairs’
- ABV 58.9%
- Age 9 years
- Distillery: Balmenach
Nose: Sweetshop flavours with flumps, icing sugar and foam shrimps. A little air reveals ‘blue’ flavour, as in blue hubba bubba bubble gum and blue cables that you buy in a cinema. Halibo orange vitamin C tablets. With water the icing sugar and flumps are concentrated, whilst malted milk biscuits come through,
Palate: Sweet fondant icing and foam shrimps develops and leads to a peppery blast. With water the pepper is toned down but the foam shrimps and flumps are very much there. Lovely!
Finish: Fizzy refreshers sweets and more of the orange from the nose. Those refreshers are even fizzier with water.
Verdict: A penny mix sweetshop dram. If available on its own I’d definitely buy a 70cl bottle for around £50-£70 pounds and be dead pleased with myself. My type of whisky (well one of them).
44.52 ‘The artist, the brewer and the baker’
- ABV 52.1%
- Age 22 years
- Distillery: Craigellachie
Nose: Green grass, lime zest, salty butter shortbread, marker pens. With water, chocolate limes and icing sugar come through. Time in the glass brings varnish and malty notes.
Palate: Biscuity and dry, like sweet cream crackers. Bitter light hops in craft blonde beer. With water there is a faint hint of liquorice.
Finish: Drying oak with shortbread and vanilla. Water brings chalkiness and fading liquorice and pepper.
Verdict: This is older and needs more coaxing to find itself. Probably not one to taste with the others. It is perhaps a little oaky on the finish for my taste, but I had a lot of fun with the hoppy biscuity palate.
G5.6 ‘Bye bye miss American rye’
- ABV 65.3%
- Age 18 years
- Distillery: Invergordon
Nose: Huge vanilla, green giant extra sweet sweetcorn, aniseed balls, vermicelli coated chocolate rum balls, rum raisin, brown sauce on supermarket cafe sausages. Wonderful! With water toffee popcorn replaces the sweetcorn. This can take a lot of water.
Palate: Huge alcohol burn, very sweet vanilla develops into rum and aniseed. With water lots of charred oak and toffee popcorn.
Finish: Rum balls, creamy sweet vanilla custard and banana yogurt. Becomes drier with water.
Verdict: This is a grain whisky and what a dram! Think complex scotch bourbon (matured in virgin oak). Only 18 years old is quite young for a grain. So many notes and something new on every taste. An excellent whisky and one that has inspired me to try more grain!
3.194 ‘Surf and turf BBQ’
- ABV 58.3%
- Age 14 years
- Distillery: Bowmore
Nose: Smoked honey glazed ham, peat BBQ, BBQ glazed ribs by the sea. Garlic prawns, sea spray. Lovely! Water seemed to dampen the nose.
Palate: Honey marinated BBQ meat, ozone, sweet smoke, sticky ribs, hint of pepper, smoked paprika, licking mussel shells.
Finish: Sticky ribs and peat smoke with a faint echo of a dusky summer BBQ. Slight oak comes in at the end.
Verdict: This is a wonderful dram, just what I want from a bowmore. Memory making and evoking! The title has this one nailed!
Overall verdict on the package: First I have to say that I was very lucky to get hold of this pack of 4 drams. There are 3 wonderful whiskies in here, with the 22yo Craigellachie, for me, perhaps not as good as the others, but still very interesting. The price makes these roughly £13 per 10cl or £6.50 a 5cl double. On that basis, I’d say it is worth it, when you think of what a double dram in a pub would cost. The charm of the box is how different all 4 drams are. If you enjoy nosing and tasting different whiskies with different characters, boxes like these are great. For the price of a whole bottle of one type of whisky, you get 4 quality quadruple drams of multiple types. However, you don’t quite get as much whisky, volume-wise, for your money and that is something to consider. The eclectic mix makes this box interesting and ideal as a purchase for a mini home tasting for a couple for friends. If you want more details and on what the twitterverse thought of these search for the hashtag #smwstt.