Review: SMWS Fall Releases II. – Old Bottlings (Balmenach, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Glen Albyn)

In September, I tasted some of the brandnew arrivals of the SMWS – the ones that I knew would sell out in no time (Ardbeg, Bowmore, Port Charlotte, Mortlach –> see article ‚SMWS Fall Releases I.‘ here on Today I am going to continue my review of the fall releases focussing on the older bottlings of Balmenach, Glenturret, Glenrothes and Glen Albyn. Here we go:


Balmenach 22 y.o. / 1988 SMWS 48.24, Refill Bourbon Hogshead, 49,3%

Comment: Very fruity (green apples, pineapple, lemon zest) and mature in the nose, kept at bay by some spice (white pepper) and wonderful white oak influences (vanilla, caramel, wood, charcoal). On the palate it bursts even more with  fruits (local and tropical) and displays a honey-infused sweetness, herbs and roses in addition – this has really been stored in a good Bourbon cask (refill?). No water needed, but this is a swimmer indeed.

Score: 89+


Glenturret 22 y.o. / 1988 SMWS 16.30, 2nd-fill Bourbon Hogshead, 51,6%

Comment: Highly unusual, not to say weird in the nose, but not at all unpleasant. Cheese roll with pickle, berry liqueur, Amarena cherry sauce from Italy (Maraschino and Morello), heather, dandelions, moss, creme brulee, honey, white dessert wine (Riesling Auslese or Passito), wet socks after a walk in the woods. The palate is a tightly-knit mix of the notes above, concentrating on moss, berries and wine, but also wonderfully mineral. Awesome, seems older than 22 years. What a cristalline fruitiness that resembles dextrose! No water, please! The finish juggles with all these aromas at great length. This ranks among the best Glenturrets I had. It has a unique character, perfect maturity and a satisfying taste that makes you beg for another glass. STUNNER!

Score: 91


Glenrothes 20 y.o. / 1990 SMWS 30.63, Refill Sherry Butt, 55,8%

Comment: Sweet and christmas-cakey (or the German ‚Christstollen mit Marzipan‘). Tea, peat and Sherry, lots of raisins (too dominating), plums, maraschino cherries, orange zest, rubber, sugared nuts and marzipan complete the nose – this is perfect for the advent or X-mas coffee table. Later some tobacco and figs emerge from the glass. The sweetness in the mouth is overwhelming and a bit monodimensional (raisins again), but we have a long finish on the same notes and noble rot on dark grapes. Unfortunately, the palate couldn’t hold the promises of the nose. Not bad, but you have to like the rubber-raisiny Sherry profile mainly on primary notes, which can be really persistent.

Score: 86


Glen Albyn 31 y.o. / 1979 SMWS 69.14, Refill Sherry Butt, 56,3%

Comment: Herbal at first, licorice and honey, loads of flowers, lemons, orange peel, plums, kraut salad with black cumin, Sushi roll in Nori, whiffs of peat, old gardening earth, Chinese roasted duck and kola nut. A little water helps opening the complex elixir. Slightly dry arrival on the palate, rather light, oak, flowers, gentle peat, honey and herbs lead into an earthy finish with echoes of the nose and some ginger. The nose was better than the rest. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable dram in the classic light but complex style without lots of ‚in-your-face‘ wood influence.

Score: 88+

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