Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Can you say SMWS!? Dram #3 - A Bag of assorted boiled sweets that won my heart

 I'm down to the top 3 most memorable drams for 2013 for this Lassie. Each one leaving its mark, or memory. It's truly an interesting look back at what I've done this year and how far I have come. The people, the locations and the drams were in some cases life changing. This one certainly fits in that category.

If you haven't heard of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society well, you are either a newbie or live under a rock perhaps. If you want to take a moment to get a bit of info please click here: 

Are you back? Ok good, read on! 

Living on the east coast of Canada I had heard of the SMWS bottlings, mostly on twitter and a few social media sites or forums I belong to but because it is not an option afforded to us I never really looked into the membership or the whiskies for that matter.

During the Victoria Whisky Festival I had the utmost pleasure of meeting Karen & Rob Carpenter, the reason SMWS came to Canada, and of course I just had to try many of the SMWS they were showcasing at the Consumer Tasting. I was hooked! The quality of the whisky was superb. I was super excited and then it hit me, they are not east of Calgary which means not available to me. Why? Well because Canada, unfortunately still has very archaic liquor transportation laws. That means I can only buy whisky/wine in my own province. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed. 

A couple of weeks later in February a friend/member of our society came home from Fort McMurray Alberta and we went out for coffee. We spend an hour or so catching up and talking about some of the great scotches he had received for Christmas. I told him about my trip to BC and showed him a few pictures.
When I got to the "Jar Jar binks in trouble again" he said: "What is that?" I explained what the SMWS was, how different I felt they were but that I couldn't buy any of them because I wasn't in Alberta. He asked if he could get them in Calgary and I nodded. "Would they let you get a membership even if you don't live in Alberta". I said pointless, can't ship them to me. He grinned: "I can pick them up and bring them to you when I come home provided you are not buying like 20 of them at a time". You serious I said?! He grinned wider. So I called a few people and low and behold I could do it that way provided he picked up my order directly at the store. That's what I did - membership mine. He comes home every 6 to 8 weeks so now I had a way to get the lovely bottles home to me. Research began! What was I going to purchase as my first bottle. I chose: Sugared almonds in a mattress factory. Loved it! In March we received a newsletter stating what new bottlings were coming out. Me, being a complete newbie had no idea they had monthly releases. Talk about being surprised and excited all over again! 

One in particular caught my eye it was called G1.8 - A bag of assorted boiled sweets. I recall thinking: "What a peculiar name?" I contacted the Kensington Wine Market and asked for this bottle. I was advised that because a very small shipment had been delivered, they would be holding a lottery. "OK, I said, put me on the list" About 2 weeks later I received an email congratulating me that I had won one of the lottery bottles. I immediately called my friend "B" and asked him when he was coming home, just so happens it was that weekend. (I know, horseshoe.. :)

So, by Sunday my very lovely bottle of G1.8 arrived and what did I do, opened it of course!? Ok, you've been following along patiently. Why did I pick this as a memorable dram for 2013? 3 reasons:

1. I had never tried a single grain whisky before.
2. I absolutely love SMWS bottlings
3. It's opened up yet another level of whisky discoveries for me that travels with me. (I'll explain)

What I love even more about being a member of the SMWS is that I take that privilege where ever I go. So, if I'm the USA or UK and there is an SMWS, provided I have my member's card I can go in and try whiskies there as well.  

I've heard so many people say: "Yeah but is the membership really worth it? Seriously, the whiskies are so expensive".  

To that I say: Where else can you buy a good quality cask strength, limited bottling of whisky from so many different distilleries (not just limited to Scotland) and in some cases that rarely bottle for the public. I've done some research. The part I don't get is people seem to complain about everything whisky related these days. If it's a NAS they complain about quality don't want to pay a lot of money. If it's a limited released item from a distillery, they don't want to spend a lot of money. If it's an older aged statement whisky that isn't from the distillery directly - you get where I'm going...  

So, for me, why not? I enjoy the SMWS's so far and I have the means. I have bought - since March - 8 bottles and of the ones I've opened I am completely satisfied and enjoy them immensely. I share them with friends, I've traded with other SMWS members and when I go to Scotland in 2014 I plan on hitting the vaults, the London shop and anywhere else I can. 

Trying the whisky from the North British Distillery opened my eyes to the loveliness that exists in grain whiskies. I've since tried several and seek them out when they are available.  

G1.8 - A bag of assorted boiled sweets:

Color: Golden straw, legs long, thick and slow...

Nose: Very herbal, tomato plant leaves, granny smith apples. Left in the glass for a little while much more sweetness is revealed. Becomes ethereal in nature, the lightest of vanilla is found. So delicate. ( I could sit and sniff this one for hours).

Palate: Whoa! I forgot this was almost 63% ABV, could not detect that on the nose at all. Super mouthfeel (lots of burn, oopsy). Added water and found the sweetness at the forefront again. Huge hit of anise seed, lots of pastry - like a fruit flan. Surprisingly a full bodied dram.

Finish:  A bit hot still, white pepper but also hints of mint and more green apples. Lingers quite a bit. 

Discovering SMWS was one of the biggest memorable experiences in 2013 for me. Thank you to Georgie Bell, Kelly & Rob Carpenter for opening my eyes/nose/palate to these lovely whiskies. And to the nay sayers, the complainers and the skeptics that don't like them or think they are too expensive, well... 

Hmmmm, which by the way is not one of their bottlings but may be it should be :)

Dram 2 and 1 to come...  OHHHHHHH MY!


PS, a HUGE thank you to B for being such a great friend. I'll share my whiskies with you anytime :)

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