An Old Style SMWS Tasting

Back in Ye Olde Days When i was a member of the SMWS , The days when the Malts were good value , usually unsulphured and Annabel Meikle (@thewhiskybelle) was pouring , the odd Friday night was spent in some lovely spot in Newcastle sampling 5 Cask Strength drams , there was usually a small feast of cheese and biccys at some point in the night . Let’s recreate them fine evenings with 5 old drams from the Society in it’s hey day……. without the cheese !

The evening usually started with a Classic , quite often a well aged Glenfarclas so lets go with 1.101 , a 25yo from May 1997 at 52.1% and labelled as ‘ Apricots and Thinners’ . A Lovely Golden Syrup colour , the nose is quite fruity with a touch of solvent in my eyes rather than thinners but not much , yup Apricot Jam , there’s also Battenburg Cake , ripe Bananas and Strawberry Jam . Getting Almonds so that’s maybe where the Battenburg came from and a bakewell tartish smell . The palate is quite feisty so maybe it was a not very active Bourbon Hoggie , again fruity with a smidge of Vanilla and opal fruits . The finish is medium , sweet and very chewy ! Not a bad way to start the evening…..

2nd dram is a one from the Good ol’ SMWSA , 37.33 , had to look this one up as i couldn’t remember what it is , a Cragganmore apparently, a 14yo from March 1993 at 60.9% .  It’s sherried….. a nice ruby red colour , lots of Christmas cake on the nose , cola cubes but none of the ‘S’ word , Woo-Hoo ! The palate is huge on the sherry , very dry (Oloroso?) and lots of the christmas cake again , the finish is deliciously long , ooh dark chocolate cherry liqueurs !  Wow ! Hang on….. all my old American friends always used to say they used t send the crap over to the states , Maybe my definition of crap is different to theirs ? A wonderful dram !

The Middle Dram ! 99.11 , a 29yo Glenugie at 43.4% , no year unfortunately as the society had changed the labels by this time and thought it would be better to put notes on rather than bottling details but it does say ‘monstera deliciosa’ , whatever that means……. Very pale for a 29yo , Ripe Straw , My nose doesn’t get any of the notes on the label tasting notes (nothing new there…..) , slight nail varnish remover , artificial fruit smells (like in sweets) , old library books and leather . The palate is very lemon flavoured throat sweets , that medicinal bitter type , not very pleasant to me , the finish is basically the same , not the best , i seem to remember this was a disappointment at the time of purchase but in a SMWS tasting you rarely got 5 drams you really liked…..

In all my SMWS tastings when i was a member i cannot remember there ever being a Grain on a tasting (i can remember there being a Brora !) , I’ve tried a few SMWS Grains and on the whole they’ve been good , my tasting notes for a SMWS North British made it into the Distillery internal Book released every 25 years courtesy of Mr Robin Laing )  . So the Penultimate dram of this tasting is a Cambus , G8.1 , 21yo at 61.2% ‘Light , Bright and Agreeable’ . Doesn’t smell 60%+ , digestive biscuits  , honey ,  fresh grain and vanilla . The palate is Highland Toffee (the one with the Coo on ) , honey and digestives , very sweet but thoroughly enjoyable ! The finish is long and sweet . A cracking dram , should have had more on the actual tastings…..

So to the final dram of the tasting , bit of a story to this one , this is from one of the first tastings i went to , it was served to me by the aforementioned Annabel in the Trinity House Museum and it was  the dram that started a love affair with the distillery , i’d only ever tried the Flora and Fauna 15yo and wasn’t impressed , so when i tried this one it was Wham , bam , thank you mam ! Also all the SMWS tastings traditionally finished with an Islay , for obvious reasons….. So onto 53.50 , a 7yo Caol Ila from October 1993 bottled at 62.1% . Very light Chardonnay Wine in colour , very powerful Medicinal initially on the nose , ok totally on the nose ! Antiseptic , eh….. Antiseptic , wonderful Antiseptic ! The palate is pretty much….. Medicinal , maybe a touch of seashore , seaweed , iodine but with a wonderful , long , warming , medicinal finish , actually got a waft of smoke right at the end . If you don’t like Islays this ain’t for you ! Still as wonderful as that first day !!!!!

Oh i do miss them days but as they say , all good things…… Made some good friends through the Society , Annabel , Stephen Marshall and Georgie Crawford to name a few but the Society was a different beast back then……  


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