SMWS Blind Tasting Event 2023

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) celebrates it's 40th birthday this year. And it shows in the amount of tastings and "flavour hunting events".  For the Benelux members, a great Blind Tasting Event was organised. 12 awesome drams to try blind. 

Tasting blind. Why would you?

I think this event is awesome if you like whisky. How many bottles already tell you what notes and flavour you can encounter on the label?
And how much does that influences your flavor profile?

Secondly: I think  it is just another opportunity to find new flavors, new tastes. It is part of the journey of exploring the ever growing world of whisky!

And third: I just had to enter and join this event.  I just had to.
I do not think I'm a very competitive person, but  in this case I found myself  in a position I wanted to prove something.
Not to others, but to myself. After  just over a year of discovering something new almost every week. Tasting a wide array of whisky and having had so many great conversations about this amber liquid.  I had to see how far I have come.

Dram 1

On the nose I got some dusty vanilla. Like some from an ageing spice rack. Some nougat and a hint of fresh fruits like pear and apple. I even got some slight hint of pepper.
The taste was awesome. Immediately I got a full mouth of flavors. Oak, warm fruits. Covering my mouth with an oily layer of apples, vanilla, malts, and figs.
The finish was rather dry and spicy.
I picked the ex IPA cask from the dropdown and picked a distillery: 48 Balmenach.

The Dram:
73.144 (Aultmore), 62,5%
first fill bourbon
Sweet, fruity and mellow
Conclusion: Not even close!
Even at the live tasting, I found it to be so sharp.

Dram 2

A very mild nose. Took a while before I got to more notes. But then I got sweet plums, figs and raisins. Dried fruits. And some almonds and fudge. Very rich in sweetness.
The taste was of warm autumn fruits. Toast with plum compote and some burnt sugar. The Finish was fresh and sharp and kept lingering for quite a while.
I guessed the Ex-Shiraz cask and picked distillery number 1: Glenfarclas.

The Dram:
68.86 (Blair Athol) 56,1%
American Oak PX
Deep rich and dried fruits
Conclusion: Not even close!
At the recap, I got totally different flavors!
Much to learn here.

Dram 3

I liked this one!
Truly enjoyed it so much, I forgot to make notes for this page.
Loved the fresh and sweet fruity flavours. Gambled on an ex-bourbon cask as final cask. Might be wrong on that one, but got so much vanilla, apple and fresh flowers and grass, that I thought it was the best guess. Also gambled on the distillery. It is simply something that is just guessing what area and then the distillery. Went for 42: Tobermory, but after sending in my form, I think I should have gone for 105: Tormore.

The Dram:
G15.21 (Rhosdhu) 61,6%
Ex-bourbon cask
Spicy & Sweet
Conclusion: Getting a bit closer. Did not get that it was a grain whisky at all.
Wow, powerful whisky trying it for the second time.

Dram 4

The final one of the first week of tasting. By this point I think I have Covid. Because I got the feeling it was not whisky (I guessed corn whiskey?) but when comparing with a whisky, I did not get the notes I normally get from my favorite bottles.
By this time, I truly hope my nose is not out of service. Got a light nose with some grains, but also oak and fresh fruits. MAN, THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!
But seriously, I need to check if I have covid I think.

The Dram:
80.41 (Glen Spey) 60,2%
Toasted caucasian oak.
Spicy & Dry
Conclusion: I guess it must be covid. Totally wrong on. this one as well. But what a blast!

Dram 5

Week 2! Hope to do a little better then last week. Here we go, sample 5:
This is a very dark sample.  On the nose I  have no doubt. This is not a whisky.  This has to be an Armagnac.  I chose the Black Gascon Oak, due to the color, and distillery A5. A Walnut Sandwich.  Very nice to have an Armagnac in this BTE line-up!

The Dram:
A2.2 (Domaine Laguille) 48,8%
Black Gascon European oak
Since it is not a whisky,  there is no flavor profile
Conclusion: Got some points on this one!

Dram 6

Beautiful color.  I got a very dominant line in my glass, with thick legs.
On the nose I had sushi! Yes, the soy sauce with some ginger. Some red fruits in the deeper layers. Not a clue what distillery, but I guessed number 8. Flavor profile sweet & spicy. Ex bourbon blood tub.

The Dram:
138.14 (Nantou) 55.7%
Ex-Bourbon cask.
Sweet, Fruity and mellow.
Conclusion: Again wrong, close to the cask, but wrong on everything else.
But what a dram!

Dram 7

The nose  has an immediate chocolate note.  A bit  surprised to get surch a warm dark note in such a light whisky. Fresh fruits right after. Beautiful!  But also a very dry feeling on the tongue. I went for the lightly peated flavor profile.
Could not even try to get close to the distillery or cask.  So I went for virgin oak and distillery 16 (Glenturret). 

The Dram:
108.53 (Allt-a-Bhainne) 62,6%
Medium Char ex bourbon
Conclusion: So close, but not enough. Great dram! Really looking for these kind of bottles in the future.

Dram 8

The color of this one made me want to try it! Is it like number 5?
At first I thought it was. On the nose: Is it a whisky?  But then: Yes. I think it is!
Sherry butt cask.  Distillery again way to hard for me. Going for number 1.
Oh man, maybe I should not have done 7&8 in one session.

The Dram:
Batch 18, Blended malt,  Marmalade Overdrive
Cask is a mix ex shiraz  hogshead.
Conclusion: I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS ONE! Oh I messed up so bad on this one. I had it before in a tasting from the SMWS, twice even!

Dram 9

A very light colored  whisky,  with an immediate peated scent when I open the vial.
On the nose so mild, so soft. God some very light vanilla, but way more  sweetness.
Very sweet and fruity, with some anis and liquorice in it.
I think this might be a Benromach? I gave it a "lightly peated" flavor profile.

The Dram:
108.56 (Allt-a-Bhainne) 61%
Bourbon cask.
Lightly peated
Conclusion: I got the flavor profile and the cask I think. So that is fun, because I'm not a big peathead. Loved this dram the second time. full flavors, but would have gone more to the smoked ham this time.

Dram 10

On the nose a bit weird. I got some musty sweet notes. Almost like dust covered candy.  Very sweet and sharp on the  taste.  Found this one really difficult to place. I even had a short moment of going towards grain whisky, but decided to stay at my first idea. I chose Tormore as the distillery, in a sweet&spicy flavor profile.  Although this might be  a young and spritely. I just do not know!

The Dram:
39.257 (Linkwood) 60.8%
Bourbon cask
Sweet, fruity and mellow
Conclusion: I did not get this dram at all. Apparently it was not that spicy. Second time around, right after the peated one, I got it. But the live session was too late to change my mind.

Dram 11

Almost nearing the end of the BTE. Sample 11. 
And since this BTE is messing with my head, I immediate wonder if this is whisky.
But the I realise: It is not cognac or armagnac. Too malty on the nose.  Also a but dusty. Not much fruit or sweetness on the nose.  Taste is sharp and spicy, but not very mouth coating or  oily. Missing something in this dram. Not a big fan to  be honest. The dusty taste left me questioning.

The Dram:
Batch 19 50%
Multiple casks , but ex barley wine
Conclusion: Again. Did not get it. Still not a fan of this one, but the stupid thing is: I had this one before. AND AGAIN, I did not get it.

Dram 12

OOOH, this is something!  Warm , molten sugar over tropical dried fruit,  sprinkled with vanilla cream.  I think this  was aged on an ex-rum cask. So sweet,  such strong hints of molasses. Really like this one. But again, guessing the percentage, distillery etc is just a guess for me.
I'm enjoying this last dram  to the last drop.

The Dram:
5.81 (Auchentochan) 55.3%
Sweet and spicy
Conclusion: Loved this one, got it wrong, but oh how nice is this dram!


Week 1: What an awesome, but also pretty humbling experience! Very happy with the score inbetween and knowing I have much to learn makes me more eager!

Week 2: What a starter this week! And what a drams. Dram 7 really took me so long. So much layers! Dram 5 a great armagnac and number 6, aww number 6. So lovely. Loved these 4 drams all. A true exploration of new things!

Week 3:  I just lost it with dram 12. That was so nice, so insanely nice. I do not care I was wrong on so much this week. Num§ber 12 was a very warm anf ruity ending of this event.

Concluding:  I truly liked this event, I did not score many point, I think I did not even end above the medium line of participants. Next time I'll join again! Definitely!