*A sincere thank you to the good folks at the SMWSA for the samples.
The second 2012 “holiday” outturn from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (SMWSA) was entitled “Holiday Parcels” and now that I’ve missed that boat and the holidays are pretty much over, I thought I’d take a three-part look at this particularly interesting group.
Here’s part three of three, my favorite of the five…
SMWSA Cask No. 29.104, “Not for wee boys”
As a responsible father and quasi-adult, I’d like to extend the SMWSA’s warning from “Not for wee boys” to “Not for boys of any size”, if by boys they mean any male under the legal drinking age. Just doing my part for a more responsible community…
No longer being a boy myself, my curiosity was definitely piqued for this one, partly because I love older Laphroaigs (who doesn’t?) and partly because this is probably the darkest Laphroaig I’ve come across. The refill sherry butt used here must have still had some life in it to instill this much color.
The Nose: Less “sherried” sweetness than I expected but still enough to enrobe that distinct Laphroaig profile in dark fruit and dusky spice. The distillery’s phenolic, oily peat is there, but measured and surrounded by stewed raisins and prunes, and dried currants. Excuse this verbosity but, this also leaves the impression of an old leather-filled library filled with lingering pipe smoke and the aromas of an overdone roast wafting in from the kitchen. Rich wood spice notes of anise, clove and peppercorns with smoldering hay, resinous pine, and floral honey peaking in from the wings. Water rounds out the fruit, adds a bit of caramel and softens the spice, but loses none of that rich peat, smoke, and old library-ish…ness.
The Palate: All the complex poetry goes out the window with the first sip. A quick flash of almost fermented fruit and juicy citrus is quickly overcome by a billowing wave of briney, beach bonfire woodsmoke. Complex wood and spice help to balance the smoke. Fresh cedar, brash clove, allspice, white pepper and star anise pods. The addition of water draws out the palate wonderfully, adding more dark fruit initially and taming the peat smoke, spreading it out across the dram. The spice is softened as well, but like the nose, it loses none of its richness or complexity.
The Finish: Ashy yet green woodsmoke linger with drying clove and anise, with a subtle wash of medicinal peat to help you remember where this one came from.
Thoughts: Beautiful whisky. There’s not a huge amount of influence from the sherry butt, allowing plenty of that Laphoraig character to shine, but it still adds a rich layer of fruit and spice. The nose does outgun the palate a bit in terms of complexity, but this is still a fairly wonderful dram from start to finish. Though I could sit and sip this at strength with no complaints, water does relax and broaden the experience. An excellent, older Laphroaig, highly recommended.
SMWSA Holiday Parcels ’12, Cask No. 29.104, Islay (1990 Laphroaig 20yo, matured in a refill sherry butt)