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The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a members-only whisky club founded in 1983 by Pip Hills. Originally based around a small group of investors buying single casks of scotch whisky for their own enjoyment, the society soon opened to the public and has grown in the years that followed to become the largest organisation of it’s kind, anywhere in the world.
I joined the society back in June of 2018 after admiring their work for many years and I was delighted to discover that members were able to buy bottles from their stall at Glasgow’s Whisky Festival back in November. After trying a few tasty drams I settled on a bottle of Cask No. 41.112, distilled 25 August 2004 at Diageo-owned Dailuaine distillery. Matured for a total of 13 years, the spirit was first aged in an ex-bourbon barrel before being transferred to an ex-red wine barrique for finishing.
It’s probably fair to say that Dailuaine isn’t one of the better known of Speyside’s vast distillery network. Founded in 1851 by local farmer William MacKenzie, the name comes from the gaelic ‘An dail uaine’ – the green valley. When MacKenzie passed away in 1865, his wife leased the distillery to James Fleming of Aberlour who ran the premises with the aid of MacKenzie’s son. Seeking to expand the capacity of the site however, the two men procured the service of one Charles Cree Doig of Elgin, architect and inventor of the pagoda-style roof which has since become synonymous with Scottish distillery design.
It was at Dailuaine that Doig pioneered his new invention. Created so that peat smoke may be more efficiently drawn off during the malting process, Doig’s pagoda was so successful that he would go on to work on more than 50 distilleries in his long career. Unfortunately however, little of his early work survives today. A devastating fire tore through Dailuaine in 1917, destroying the kiln completely. After a full rebuild, the distillery was sold to DCL and there it has remained throughout all the mergers and takeovers which would eventually create Diageo.
Official bottlings of the Dailuaine single malt are few and far between, with one 16 year old release appearing occasionally as part of Diageo’s Flora & Fauna series. Independent bottlings are relatively rare too – and red-wine finished examples must be practically non-existent. It seemed vital therefore, that I snapped up this SMWS offering while I had the chance!
*Full Disclosure: I am part of an affiliate programme with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. As such, I can be paid commission should any of my readers choose to become members. That said, this bottle was purchased using my own money and I always strive to remain impartial in my reviews.
Cask No. 41.112 has been dubbed ‘Chocolate Malt and Gingerbread’ by the Society’s tasting panel. Aged for a total of 13 years, it is bottled at 57.7% and retails at around £50 a bottle.
Smell: Chocolate, Hazelnut, Caramel, Warm Apple Crumble, Forest Fruits, Toffee, Raisins… Paprika and Charred Oak
Taste: Toffee and Salted Caramel, Oak – strong Tea! Salt & Pepper, Raspberry Jam, Chilli Peppers and Liquorice.
Thoughts: Despite only being available to those already in the Society, £50 for a cask strength 13 year old is great value. Especially one as unique as this.
This is the kind of dram that you can only get from independent bottlers. A lesser known malt, carrying a decent age statement, given a bold finish using an ex-red wine cask and most importantly, sensibly priced. Another cracker from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a unique members only whisky club which releases an array of new single cask bottlings each month. Members not only gain access to this monthly out-turn, but also to the purpose built members rooms in Society venues in Edinburgh and London.
For more information on joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, click here.