In our special “Dream Drams” evening in Dubai early 2019, we went from a lively and most enjoyable Irish whiskey to a completely different direction with a single grain.
And no ordinary grain, it was a Strathclyde bottled by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) from 1977, matured for 38 years, producing only 72 bottles from a refill ex-bourbon cask…
And in their trademark way, it was creatively dubbed “Busy Buzzing Bees” by the SMWS folks.
What did our merry tasting group in Dubai have to say about it?
SMWS G10.10 “Busy buzzing bees” 38 years (23 Nov 1977) 49.6%
Nose – It greeted us with fresh pepper, then mellowed in vanilla, nougat, eucalyptus, emerging a distinctive farm-like quality, cedar wood, light lavender
Palate – Honey and caramel, a few found it “buttery”, delightfully sweet
Finish – Bitter almond
Water – Beautiful and silky
How rare it is to have a grain whisky that has matured nearly 40 years… we were honoured to have such an opportunity.
What did the SMWS folks have to say about this whisky?
A light, sweet and floral aroma greeted the Panel. Sugar dusted fruit flavoured bonbons and candy corn were mentioned before a picture full of promise emerged; sitting in the garden sipping on a Lemon Drop Martini and listening to the bees buzzing in the laurel hedge.
The taste had honey-roasted peaches with lavender ice cream whilst the overall impression was one of an almost perfect balance between delicate, perfumed sweetness and dry wood spice.
A drop of water and a plate of seafood pasta in a creamy marinara sauce and a glass of chilled, slightly mineralic, Riesling Auslese was being served.
DRINKING TIP:Perfect to replace a dessert wine
For those curious to try, it is still showing as available through the SMWS for £278.40.
Girvan 8 years (2006/2014) 46% from Berrys’ – Starts with a hit of pure alcohol then sweet bananas, some vanilla from the oak wood, lemon drop sweetness peeped out… all the elements were very subtle with the overall scent of light varnish
Girvan 28 years 42% – From a bio-chemistry set to sweet fruits, pudding, tasting like honey water, eclair and a caramel rum ball
Strathclyde 25 year (1990/2016) 51.1% from Douglas Laing – A remarkable nose that kept evolving – all elements nuanced yet distinctive. Whereas on the palate, it was came across as innocuous, something to accompany with little remarkable on its own.
Still to try something from North British and Starlaw… However not such a bad start to exploring this category of whisky!
Curious about even more grains? Check out this Grain’s pagededicated to just grain – in all its various from Scotland to Japan to North America and Europe!
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Our Single Grain trio evening continued with Strathclyde single grain from Glasgow. Originally built in 1927 on the site of an old cotton mill to produce gin, it has gone on to pump out grain spirit, primarily for blends for its current owner – Chivas Bothers Holdings, part of the Pernod Ricard group.
Strathclyde Single Grain 25 year (Aug 1990/Sep 2016) Refill Barrel DL11335 51.5% Douglas Laing’s Old Particular, 116 bottles
Nose – Unmistakable varnish – full-on, then caramel, banana, light flowers, then nuts like walnut, coconut, dried fruits, shifted into a creamy aroma – like sweet coconut cream, becoming increasingly sweet like butterscotch – loads and loads of butterscotch, then baked banana bread, roasted almonds, a bit of chocolate, then just as earlier it was unquestionably butterscotch, it was sawdust or fresh wood shavings, after airing even more like marshmallows!
Palate – Cinnamon sweet, the 2nd sip was quite bitter and a bit harsh, the settled into mulled wine, while pleasant, nothing remarkable
Finish – Bitter long, with a spice chaser, very dry and closed with nail polish
Water – Don’t. Loses the nose which is by far the best aspect. However it did bring out the most compelling nescafé instant coffee taste!
The nose was the most interesting element of this grain whisky. It was remarkable how it kept evolving – all elements nuanced yet distinctive. Whereas on the palate, it was came across as innocuous, something to accompany with little remarkable on its own.
Once upon a time if you had asked me to characterize our Bombay Malt & Cigar club, I would have said it was a set of gentlemen in pursuit of the finer things in life. In terms of their preferences – quality older Scottish single malts would be the ONLY whiskies to make the cut.
Would any of these whiskies be ones any of us would want to run out and buy? No. But was it worth spending a bit of time trying? Absolutely!
For our tasting notes, read on over the next few days…
This session also happened to be our annual partner’s night… A chance for our better halves to enjoy an evening, jointly socializing after the ‘serious business’ of whisky tasting concludes and desultory puffing on cigars with conversation commenced.