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A Mystery Malt
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is both independent bottler and whisky club. Members pay an annual fee to gain access to members bars, tasting events and an array of single cask and small batch spirits that are released on a monthly basis.
The Society often runs a renewal deal that allows members to add a lucky dip bottle onto their membership renewal each year and it’s something I regularly opt for. This year my renewal bottle was Cask No. 28.75 “Teuchter Flâneur”.
Some people may baulk at the notion of taking on a mystery bottle but I quite like the idea. It seems somehow in the spirit of the Society. After all, this is an organisation that foregoes distillery and brand names in favour of colourful descriptions and eccentric tasting notes. I generally find the mystery bottlings an educational experience because oftentimes it isn’t something I would likely have gone for myself. It’s nice to have someone else pick out a bottle. It broadens the horizons a little.
Members should embrace such ideas, rather than spending time on social media bickering about the speed at which the Society’s latest Macallan bottling sold out. Although it can be hysterical for the bystander to watch people complain about flippers snapping up the bottles, especially when you suspect that’s the very reason the complainer wanted the bottle in the first place.
Normally I like to taste SMWS drams before I check out the distillery codes but in this case, I recognised that the whisky came from Tullibardine, which is a distillery I like and one I have visited in the past. The official bottling range of Tullibardine’s single malt whisky, however, sometimes feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. It’s bottled at low strength and a reliance on wine cask finishes makes it hard to identify any particular distillery character. That’s where independent bottlers like the SMWS come in. This bottling is cask strength, 9 years old and fully matured in a first-fill bourbon barrel. With any luck, it should showcase a different side to this highland malt.
For the record, Teuchter is a bizzare word of unknown origin that is used by lowlanders to describe the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. There are various suggestions from where it came from but it’s basically a slightly derogatory way of saying Highlander. I say derogatory but I doubt many would take offence to its use. My wife is herself a Highlander and practically wears the term as a badge of honour.
Flâneur, I confess, I hadn’t heard before. Turns out it’s a French word for a man who wanders around, observing society.
So a Scottish – French mashup. The Auld Alliance at work again.
Smell: Malty. Straw. Grass. Oatcakes and wheaty breakfast cereals. Honey. Cinnamon. Vanilla. Butter. Toffee-flavoured popcorn. Some summery floral notes. Oaky spice. Fresh apple and pear. Lemongrass.
Taste: Waxy and mouthcoating. Buttery. Vanilla. Fresh oak. Toffee apples. Digestive biscuits with honey. Pear drops. Black pepper that lingers into the finish. Peppery heat is quite intense at first. Needed some water to tone it down a little.
Thoughts: Quite a simple whisky really. Nothing overly complex. Nice balance between floral, fruity spirit, oak cask and the bourbon it once contained. I really like the mouthfeel though. I tend to gravitate towards drams with a bit of body and this one does well where that is concerned. I don’t know that texture is something I would normally associate with this spirit so it’s a nice surprise. A typical central Highlands / Perthshire dram in many ways. Floral, malty, sweet. Not a trace of peat or sherry. Simple but effective enough.
Value for money: It’s not the most exciting dram I’ve come across and I don’t know that I’d have jumped at the chance to pay £50 for it but neither is there anything particularly wrong with it. As part of my renewal deal, I’m quite happy with it.
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