Whisky Focus - The SMWS Sherry Tasting Pack Reviews

The SMWS Sherry Tasting Pack Reviews


3rd June 2024
Review of The SMWS 'Sherry Cask Takeover' tasting pack which was recently released as part of the global whisky club's initiative to highlight its sherry cask-matured whiskies throughout 2024.

The whiskies reviewed are: The SMWS 36.201 'Glazed With Marmalade', The SMWS 95.67 'A Mexican Pear Belle Helene' and The SMWS 53.457 'Coal Shards On Clotted Cream'.

The SMWS Sherry Tasting Pack

I got hold of a 'Sherry Cask Takeover' pack from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society which they recently released as part of their  ‘Scotch and Sherry: A Flavour Odyssey’ - a film investigating how sherry cask-matured whisky gets its unique flavour.

The unveiling of "Scotch and Sherry: A Flavour Odyssey" aligned with the global whisky club's initiative to highlight its expertise in sherry cask-matured whiskies throughout 2024.

My pack contained three unique single cask whiskies, bottled at high strength, naturally coloured and non chill filtered, two from the Speyside region and one from Islay. I was a little surprised to find that there was no 100% sherry cask matured drams in the pack, nonetheless it contains three sherry cask finished whiskies, in fact all three have had a 3 year finish in their respective sherry cask.

As is still The SMWS tasting panels way each cask/bottling they select is released with a whimsical set of tasting notes which provide an indication of what flavours and textures the drinker can expect. Each bottle is also given a number and a quirky and descriptive name - in the case of these three whiskies The SMWS 36.201 'Glazed With Marmalade', The SMWS 95.67 'A Mexican Pear Belle Helene' and The SMWS 53.457 'Coal Shards On Clotted Cream'.

The SMWS policy of not revealing the distillery the whisky originated from still continues to this day as they never name the distillery of origin on the label but give each distillery a code number and allow members to try guess from the descriptions. These codes are well known today and you can find a ever expanding list of the SMWS Distillery Bottling Codes (Numerically) here.

Spoiler, my thoughts on the 3 sherry finished drams from The SMWS Sherry Cask Takeover tasting pack below also contain the name of the distillery, sure you would only have looked it up like everyone does.

If you are interested in joining The SMWS membership starts from £100 and is available to purchase here
www.smws.com/whisky-club-membership along with The SMWS Sherry Cask Takeover tasting pack as long as stocks last.
 

The SMWS 36.201 16 Year Old (AKA Benrinnes) Review


Distilled at Binrinnes Distillery 22nd August 2006. Matured for 13 years in a Ex-Bourbon Hogshead then finished in a 1st Fill Spanish Ex-Oloroso Hogshead16 Year Old. Bottled at 59.7% ABV.

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Quite an intense sultana and raisin sweetness with a lovely meaty, savoury edge. A little lemon citrus a touch of vanilla and some almond oil.

Taste: Deliciously citrusy and mildly spicy at first, orange marmalade is matched by a sultana and raisin sweetness, vanilla toffee and honey, the spice intensifies and has developed a bit of a hot peppery edge.

Finish: The delicious sweet sherry notes becomes a little meatier, some lingering vanilla, honey and almond, these all bow out to let the peppery oak have the final word. Slightly drying at the end.

Comment: A cracking example of what a quality sherry cask   can do for Benrinnes spirit which in turn is a dram suited to a sherry cask making for a decent sherried dram.

SMW Whisky Score 87/100
 

The SMWS 95.67 16 Year Old (AKA Auchroisk) Review


Distilled at Auchroisk Distillery 16th January 2006. Matured for 13 years in a Ex-Bourbon Hogshead then finished in a 1st Fill American oak Ex-Pedro Ximenez Hogshead.16 Year Old. Bottled at 59.7% ABV.

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: A lovely sweet mix of toasty vanilla, a touch of cinnamon, chocolate, some lovely sherried fruitcake notes and the hint of distant coffee.

Taste: Deliciously rich and vibrant. Sweet burnt raisins, ripe pear and a little vanilla toffee with a thin coating of milk chocolate orange, some cherry, a touch of zesty lemon, cinnamon, some lovely oak spice and ginger hanging around in the background.

Finish: A lovely long lingering finish, sweet raisins, ripe pear and toffee gives way to some late nutmeg and mildly drying oak spice.

Comment: First Fill PX casks tend to be very good with young whiskies or like in this case a whisky finished for 3 years in a PX cask and their really is a quality PX cask at work here, a deliciously moreish sherried dram.

SMW Whisky Score 91/100
 

The SMWS 53.457 9 Year Old (AKA Caol Ila) Review


Distilled at Caol Ila Distillery 3rd April 2013. Matured in a Ex-Bourbon Hogshead then finished in a 1st Fill American Ex-Oloroso Hogshead. 9 Year Old. Bottled at 57.2% ABV.

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Enticing sweet peat smoke infused with vanilla toffee, honey and pear. A wee touch of raisin and sultana brings a sherried fruitiness, some milk chocolate lurks in the background

Taste: Delicious sweet peat leads the charge and is quickly followed by sweet creamy milk chocolate, raisin, sultana and cherry. Then some gentle orange and a little vanilla toffee, just a wee touch of cinnamon and lovely sweet oak spice.

Finish: A long lingering  finish, just a hint of the sherried fruit which bows out first, a delicious continuation of the the taste where the sweet peat smoke piggybacks on the sugars prolonging its life long into the finish, some creamy vanilla. Some slightly drying oak has the final word.

Comment: The 3 year finish in a 1st Fill American Ex-Oloroso has given this delicious ex-bourbon cask matured Caol Ila a lovely sherried fruit edge, the peat and ex-bourbon casks are the stars here but the Ex-Oloroso cask has made it something special, an outstanding example of Caol Ila with a delicious bsherried edge.

SMW Whisky Score 91/100
 

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