Our online shop is ideal for delving into to find intriguing examples of bottlings to compare and contrast. Here’s Andrew Park from our Member Services team with some of his favourite pairs of  bottlings

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When I joined The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I was blown away by a vertical tasting highlighting distillery 64. I couldn’t get over the flavour differences in the spirit and how the individual casks had moulded each expression in a different way.

For this comparative tasting, I’ve selected three different distilleries and two single cask expressions from each, to explore a world of variety in drams – even at the same age and from the same distillery.

 Let’s dive in!

A TALE OF TWO DRAMS FROM DISTILLERY 13

Cask No. 13.61: Gardener takes a break

Spicy & Dry

11-years-old

Refill ex-bourbon barrel

It has a sweet yet dry nose, similar to pixie dust and the taste has a sweet drying effect not to dissimilar to rum Agricole, a squeeze of lime and ice could make a nice long drink!  With water the tasting note is spot on with the Indian take, my palate will take me as far as coronation chicken, dates, rye bread and cinnamon grilled pineapple slices.

Cask No. 13.66: Have you ever tried…?

Juicy, Oak & Vanilla

11-years-old

Refill ex-bourbon barrel

This was distilled just eight months after the 13.61 and we bottled them within two months of each other, which gives an additional maturation of just six months. However, the flavours between the two drams are substantially different.

The 13.66 is a lot mellower and softer on the palate, moving into much more of a summer dram compared with the warming autumn style of the 13.61. Neat, it brings chocolate-covered raisins, American cream soda and apple strudel. With water the flavour freshens into a mint Julep, with fresh honeycomb straight out of the hive and banana pancakes.

SPEYSIDE CONTRASTS FROM DISTILLERY 35

Cask No. 35.221: Ice-cream parlour sundae

Juicy, Oak & Vanilla

10-years-old

Second-fill ex-bourbon

Although I’m carrying on with the Juicy, Oak & Vanilla flavour profile, I thought it would be great to travel from the Highlands to Speyside, to see the differences in spirit yet keeping it within the same flavour profile as the last dram.

This dram has a huge amount of vanilla and spice, very similar to a vanilla ice-cream with chocolate and chilli sprinkles over it, refreshing my palate with a lemon and lime sorbet while waxing my surfboard. With each drop of water, it released different aromas and flavours that reminded me of walking through a department store perfumery and candle section. Every time I returned to the glass a new scent was emerging – all fresh and inviting, gladly welcoming you back sip after sip!

Cask No. 35.229: Bountiful yet balanced

Spicy & Sweet

10-years-old

Refill ex-oloroso puncheon

From the same distillery and the same age, the difference here is from the whisky’s maturation in an ex-sherry puncheon, although after 10 years it’s still reasonably pale in comparison with Cask No. 35.229.

This one delivers lots of stewed fruits and jam sweetness, I would seriously think about putting this into a bread and butter pudding to give it a kick! Water released a little more fake sweeteners, fruit pastels and jolly ranchers candies, BBQ sauce over burnt ends of a slow roasted rack of ribs.  Not a sensible dram to have if you are on a diet!

HIGHLAND PEAT SEPARATED AT BIRTH

Cask No. 66.134: Tar very much

Lightly Peated

12-years-old

Refill ex-bourbon hogshead

For me Highland peat still flies under the radar, but I love the sweet heather and lavender notes that shine through from distillery 66.

This is a burnt crème caramel, roasted marshmallow, with smoked paprika and a freshly laid tarmac path on a summer’s day. It’s lovely and tannic, leaving the mouth dry and wanting more. The reduced dram continued with light wisps of cigar smoke and singed gorse. Smoked sausage and turpentine fill the palate, along with a refreshing smoked wheat beer.

Cask No. 66.139: Deerstalkers and hillwalkers

Lightly Peated

12-years-old

Refill ex-bourbon hogshead

Distilled on the exact same day, matured in the same cask type and bottled two months apart, on the hard evidence you’d think these two drams should be nearly identical – but they are surprisingly different!

Unlike the 66.134, where ash and fire prevail, this is a much more natural dram. Think of a carpenter’s workbench in the height of summer, a farrier making adjustments to a horseshoe while a Clydesdale is led in from its shift in the field. A farm unchanged in 100 years, drying straw bales and wax jackets dominate the undiluted dram. Water transports you to beside a fire in the local pub, eating a ploughman’s lunch with chutney, cured meats and over brewed tea. A true reward for a hard day’s work.


Intrigued by our cask strength contrasts? Find these bottles and many more by browsing our online shop at www.smws.com/whisky

Give us a follow or like us!