July tastings with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Updated: Feb 28
On an incredibly wet Saturday not too long ago, none other than Scotch Malt Whisky Society Brand Ambassador Bob Wenting hosted one of the first tastings both on location as well as virtual at the always entertaining J.D. William's Whisky Bar in Amsterdam. And what a dram good time we had!
If you've not tried a virtual tasting yet, any virtual tasting, I definitely advise you to book one because being able to enjoy a dram from the comfort of your own home and still get all the insights you want, is a luxury. I did do a few virtual sessions here and there but I have to admit, being able to go into a bar and chat to people in real life, is something I had been craving for a long time.
J.D. William's Whisky Bar
Nothing makes me more happy than a good whisky and Asian comfort food. I actually discovered this bar years ago when my friend took me there for my birthday. Over Korean beef tacos and whisky cocktails, I couldn't help but stare at the wall behind the bar, covered in bottles. And the best part? It's a Scotch Malt Whisky Society Partner bar.
This tasting was actually the first tasting since closing the bar on March 16th.
SMWS Tasting pack
If you've joined tastings online before, the familiar green box with sample bottles should have been delivered at your door (hopefully) on time. This pack also contained all the tasting notes in the small red envelope. For us sitting at the bar, we had our lovely notes printed out in front of us.
Time to drink that dram
Bob and Daniel kick off the tasting and inform us that if we do not want to be on camera, we'd better duck... I'm not too afraid. Instead I'm actually quite pleased because bar owner Daniel takes the seat next to me and I get to pick his brain on all things whisky and whisky bar during the tasting.
CASK No. 30.112 Umami Heaven!
Spicy & Sweet - First fill Ex-Sherry Butt - Speyside - 65.4% - 12 yrs
This starter whisky has such a heavy kick, I'm impressed. Beautiful color by the way. Bacon, meaty, cherries, wood and sweet on the nose.
Heavy on the flavour but the sherry is not as overpowering as first thought. Citrus on the tongue and funny enough that feel like a characteristic of this particular distiller.
I decided not to add water as the people around me who did felt it did not make a difference. Gorgeous whisky to start off with.
CASK No. 39.195 Starch of the Penguins
Sweet, Fruity and Mellow - Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead - Speyside - 59.1% - 13 yrs
Very light on the nose, hectic banana sweets though - which is never my favorite but a lot of ice cream and vanilla I feel a lot better. Nutty as well and just generally sweet.
Very fruity on the taste, not as hectic as the first, but still very comfortable to drink. With 13 years old. I added a little water and it made it a bit more herbal. The person next to me commented that it smelled musty, like a wet sock. I don't know what your socks smell like, but mine smell like candy. Even after a while it remains very tasty, soft and a little dry. Very enjoyable!
CASK No. 35.261 General Custard
Juicy, Oak & Vanilla - First Fill Ex-Bourbon Barrel - Speyside - 59.7% - 16 yrs
Yeah, the custard is clear. It's got a beautiful Bourbon sweetness to the nose, vanilla, fresh cherries, wood and fruit in there as well. It's not as spicy as the first whisky but if you compare them, this one is very light. When sipping it has a very warm, generous and fatty mouth coating feeling. There's a lot of fruit and fudge on the palate for me as well as sweets, like the old style sweets your grandmother would have in a tin. No water added to this either for me, it seemed like a waste.
CASK No. 46.91 Mulled Whisky
Spicy and Dry - First Fill Charred Ex-Red Wine Barrique - Speyside - 55.1% - 22 yrs
This whisky brings up memories of raisins but not the sweaty ones you are fed as a kid from a little box. There are lovely sweet notes on the nose, classic for a European oak casks but then combined with the Red Wine Barrique, you get that fruitiness somewhere in the back deep dark chocolate. When sipping there is this lovely sweetness and some cinnamon hidden in there as well. It's a little earthy and there are definitely some tannins on the palate, making the flavour last less long than the very first.
CASK No. 53.325 When Two Powerful Pearls Meet
Peated - Refill Ex-Madeira Hogshead - Islay - 61.2% - 7 yrs
While I've never been a great fan of peated whiskies, I truly believe that I need to keep trying because someday I know I will start appreciating them. On the nose, the first thing I got was fish. Not in the way my old housemates used to fry up two day old fruits de mer, but proper fresh fish grilled over a charcoal barbecue which you enjoy on a boat floating on the Mediterranean sea. Having a peated whisky aged on Madeira doesn't happen that much anymore but unfortunately you can't tell from the nose that there's been some aging on the hogshead. There is quite some sweetness in there on the tongue and you can tell it is quintessential islay. There is a little bit of salmiak in there as well but when you add water (what I always do with a peated whisky), the dram becomes sweeter and has a lovely long Madeira finish.
A little surprise!
This is a benefit we got for sitting in the bar, as opposed to home... J.D. William's owner Daniel made us a wonderful Rob Roy cocktail with the 46.91 Mulled Whisky, some Bordiga Vermouth Rosso and bitters. Some might find it reprehensible but the SMWS whiskies actually are quite good for making cocktails. If you've got the best ingredients, you should cook with it.
The winner of the night? The very first - Umami Heaven!
I can't wait for the next one!