SMWS Blind Tasting


My table for the evening. Copsington, Jon, Stevo, Tommo, Adrian



I don’t like to take things for granted. I know that I am incredibly lucky in certain aspects of my life. I have my health, a wonderful wife, friends, a home, a good job and the time/means to pursue my numerous hobbies.Furthermore, I don’t like taking the generosity of the whisky community (or #whiskyfabric as it is quickly becoming known) for granted. So when I was invited by Joe McGirr to a special bloggers/writers evening at the SMWS, I considered myself very lucky.




A host of whisky bloggers, writers, philosophers and all-round good eggs!

On Thursday evening I had the pleasure of attending this event at the Scotch Malt Whisky SocietiesLondon tasting room, for an evening of dramatic drams and glorious grub. For me personally, there was a distinct element of anticipation and excitement rising. Yes I was looking forward to trying what had been described as “Some very special whiskies”,but there was more. This proved to be a gathering of the many whisky bloggers/friends I have made over the last year and a half on twitter.Giving me the chance to meet many of the individuals I regularly chat to on the twittersphere. 



John McCheyne leading the evening with panache and flair

The tasting was hosted by John McCheyne: a true legend, who passionately led us through the whiskies with humerous stories, anecdotes and his witty words of wisdom. Here are the six drams we tried…..blind!


SMWS 21.28 ‘Relaxing in a tropical garden’ (48.1%)


Glenglassaugh 37yo

N: Rich and strong. Ripe fruit, brown sugar, marzipan, cherries. Some wet wood with ahint of spice in there too. Strong oakiness appears with time before the floral qualities start cropping up. Left in the glass a few hours, it becomes rather tropical. 

P: Nice and smooth on delivery. Tropical fruits here too. Spice becomes even more present. Some coconut and freshly cut grass here too. Slightly hot considering its ABV.

F: Medium/short. A nice creamy finish on this one. Brown sugar and spice stay present, but overall it’s soft and delicate, lingering gently on the tongue. Its maturity increases with time.

Quite a beguiling whisky this one. Many of us thinking it was a refill sherry cask, before John revealed it was a refill bourbon instead. Most were also out by 10+ years when guessing its age. Really interesting dram, which we were lucky to try, let alone start with.


SMWS 46.22 ‘An Italian Kitchen’ (50.6%)


Glenlossie 20yo

N: Sour note here. Some grape notes and a hint of acrylic paint/poster paint. Apple peel, sultanas and dark chocolate. Creamy vanilla, some citrus and grassy notes too. Fills the nostrils right up.

P: Light on palate. Lots of fruit on delivery: apples, pears and grapes especially. Sour note quite obvious, chocolate éclairs, vanilla and slight nuttiness.

F: Long and fruity finish. Sweet and fresh. Slight savoury note right at the end too.

This was a solid whisky.  My main note was “This is pretty great!”


SMWS 26.93 ‘Cottage Garden Beside a Church’ (56.3%)


Clynelish 28yo

N: Nice nice NICE! Sawdust, almonds, citrus, gently floral and classic Clynelish meatiness. Apple peel, melons and tropical fruit. Vanilla pod, lots of old school sweet shop sweets.

P: Lots of savoury coastal meaty and oaky notes here. Elderflower, malty and some burnt toast. Syrup sponge. Peppery now and slight hint of peat. Ah man….. I love this!

F: Smooth, and it just keeps on going. Quite herbal with a mix of meat, salty Parma ham and peat.

Ok, so I’m currently a big Clynelish fan. The 14yo OB is pretty flawless and gives so much bang for its buck. Most other indie bottlings I’ve tried are great too. This though, was not only powerful, meaty, and smooth, but also had an air of maturity to it. I’m off to get one!


Some superb pork arrived during the interval


John doing his thaaang


 SMWS 121.50 ‘Xmas cake and Afghan coats’ (61.3%)


Arran 9yo

N: I automatically thought this was a Highland Park before it started opening up. Prickly. Coca Cola, dark chewy toffee and raisins with some savoury notes (smoked ham). Quite salty with a slight BBQ glaze. Dusty sherry and a slight ‘off’ note.

P: Dark, hot and powerful. Really peppery. More fruit on palate than nose and water just increases that. Sherry just gets bigger and bigger with time.

F: Long, sitting for quite a while. Some spiciness and ginger. Cloves and a hint of meat and leather. Quite drying.

I’ve tastedfive different Arrans in the last 3 weeks and would have never have guessed this was from the same distillery.This is a grower, and again we were very lucky to have been able to try this as there aren’t many of these around nowadays.


 SMWS R2.3 ‘Visiting a Gothic art gallery’ (69.5%)


Rum 21yo

N: First note was “I’m not sure I like this one”. Sourness, rubber bands, old cheese paint and high metallic and old herbal notes. Very weird indeed. I can’t really place this. Most thought this was aged in a different spirit.

P: Bonjela and feels like I’m at the dentist. Cloves, chilli, very metallic and liquorice. Root beer, old bubble gum. Nah…

F: Waxy and peppery. Grapey, flat fizzy drink, numbing. Better than the palate… but for me that wasn’t hard.

This came out of nowhere! John told us that all the whiskies would be scotch. However, he “forgot” to mention that there might be a rum involved. I’m not a rum fan, and this never sat well with me. I’m sure some would enjoy it though.

SMWS 129.1 ‘A Smokey, Peachy, Yoghurt of Loveliness’ (60.2%)


Kilchoman 5yo

N: Beautiful stuff. Peat, gentle smoke/ash, damp wood and moss. Slightly menthol and mossy. Stays fresh with some ripe fruit. I could have nosed this for quite a while.

P: Lovely stuff. Burnt wood and charcoal notes to start before punchy peat (not too heavy) arrives. Buttery goodness and peaches. Peat sweetens out with some nice oaky notes too.

F: Long. Smoke beautifully on the tongue. Sweet peach and woodiness lingers around the mouth tempting the taste buds.

The youngest whisky of the night, and an absolute cracker! Enjoyed by all, it was incredibly drinkable and moorish (John may have poured me a few extra glasses at the end). For its age, it is incredibly balanced, working really well. It instantly became my favourite Kilchoman that I have tried. If only I could buy one.



A toast to John for the night and to Steve Rush’s health


Lots of empty glasses and full notepads








What a fantastic evening. The food, atmosphere, wisdom and whisky were fantastic. However, all this was eclipsed by my simply wonderful whisky companions. I want to thank Joe McGirr and John McCheyne for the most splendid night at this special venue.



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