The nights are drawing in, and yes there are even some Christmas trees popping up already. However you feel about winter and the approach of the festive season, it’s made all the better with a warming Society whisky, finds SMWS spirits manager Euan Campbell in his picks from the new November Outturn…
Some of us embrace the darker months, and find our own satisfaction from cosying up to the fire in The Vaults or elsewhere, using the diminishing hours of daylight as the perfect excuse to linger over a satisfying dram before heading out to brave the elements.
Not everyone’s as welcoming of winter, but however you feel about the turning of the seasons, you can be sure that the Society is looking after your needs with this new Outturn.
First of all, it’s packed with whiskies that scored remarkably highly with the Tasting Panel. Secondly, there’s a reason we present whiskies in these styles – because these drams really come into their own in the winter months.
With winter and the approach of Christmas on our minds already, we have no less than six bottlings from our Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits flavour profile. Among them are Casks No. 1.213: Seduces and invites fantasies and 96.3: Thor’s slippers, which have both had a period of maturation in Pedro Ximenez casks and are packed with the deep, fruity character you’d expect and appreciate at this time of year.
Our single grain bottling G1.18: Pyjamas for the soul is another beauty for the fireside – it spent 26 years in an oloroso butt before we transferred it to a second-fill PX butt, giving it the mouth-flooding warmth that led to its comforting name. Cask No. 9.170: Australian outback spent 22 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead followed by two years in a second-fill American oak PX hogshead. The result is a lighter dram that falls into the Sweet, Fruity & Mellow flavour profile, a shy beauty well worth getting to know.
It’s not all about Pedro Ximenez – some additional maturation in a wine cask can also conjure up flavours to help us face the winter. Cask No. 35.254: A conversation piece spent 13 years in a Chenin blanc barrique followed by 24 months in a designer barrel, giving it an amazing auburn-to-amber colour and notes of orange boxes, mandarins in syrup and sugar-coated fennel seeds. Cask No. 37.126: Madeira, Manuka and macerated plums, meanwhile, had 16 years in ex-bourbon wood before we transferred it into a first-fill charred red wine barrique, giving it leather, tobacco and wood on the palate, and dark chocolate, cherry and ginger to taste.
Cask No. 36.167: Nuts in velvet is a final Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits bottling that deserves a shout out. After 22 years in a second-fill bourbon barrel, this has really come into its own, a splendidly moreish dram of fresh sweetness, chocolate truffles, praline and velvety notes of coffee beans. All in all, an excellent spirit.
All of these lean towards heavy fruity winter satisfaction, but this time of year also invites a punchy peated dram, and this Outturn has a good range of those as well. Cask No. 137.5: The Devil’s stationery cupboard has more than a hint of an Islay malt – but actually comes from south of the Scottish border. Cask No. 53: 303: Biting a fireman’s glove is from an experimental heavily charred cask with a finish ‘like the final scene from The Wicker Man’ according to our horror-loving Tasting Panel. Cask No. 29:265: Skippers and kippers is a more refined affair, combining smoke and sweetness, while both Cask Nos. 16.41: Cosy contentment and 66.153: Herbs on a grill tray both bring a damp blast of peat reek for those seeking out a big hit.
If that doesn’t give you something to coorie in with when the darkness falls, there’s plenty more in this Outturn to whet your appetite. I’ll see you by the fireside.
Check out our ambassador Matthew Brule’s picks from the November Outturn below