Back from a trip near the W source (see here) and with a co-taster in town, a visit to the SMWS was necessary.
The suspects: JS, dom666 and myself.
30.71 14yo 1997 Burnt crumpet and Highland Toffee (57.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Gorda, 756b) (me): no inspiration, so I go with staff recommendation. Nose: coffee, touch of vanilla, butterscotch, quite a bit of sulphur (rotten eggs and all), then a little rubber. Mouth: Sweet. Overly sugared coffee with sherry bitterness. Finish: liqueur pralines, cake, cough syrup. This is ok. Too much on the sherry tip, though. 6/10
39.78 27yo 1982 Welcome wake-up call (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 232b) (dom666): nose: nuts, almonds, leather. Mouth: wood, some herbs (?), distant mint. Finish: Some vanilla, wood, fern. Good dram.
73.49 9yo 2002 Ice-cream sundae (58.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 176b) (JS): nose: very sugary, caramel, overly ripe banana shake. Mouth: sweet and creamy, a slight hint of musk, nearly sparkling. Finish: vanilla, sweet and nice. The only downside is it leaves the tongue very dry.
A "forgotten" malt: someone ordered drinks while I was at the bar and left one behind, right next to mine. I took the wrong one. When I realised, I went back to the bar to take mine and give the wrong one back. No one to be seen anymore. Easy to guess how it ended. Nose: butterscotch, leather. Mouth: More sweetness a la 30.71. Finish: sweet, sweet, sweet. Cough syrup, crème brûlée. Too sweet for me.
105.19 28yo 1983 A dram for Santa (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Sherry Hogshead, 315b) (dom666): a favourite of mine and I want to convert dom666 to this distillery (or bottling, at least). Nose: ash. Ashtray, in the back. Not in a Kilchoman-new-make way, though -- all in subtlety. Mouth: cherry waffle assault with some vague ash remnants. With water, creamier, pharmaceutical and a little less cherried -- more chocolatey. Finish: round, fruity, berries, more floral than before (dom666). Simply fantastic. With water, more chocolate and cherry coulis than full-on cherry waffle, toffee. dom666 buys a bottle. Yay! :-) 9/10
25.62 20yo 1991 Classy and attractive (54%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 205b) (dom666): another auld acquaintance. Nose: marmalade, rose water, various bakery enhancers, bubblegum. Mouth: jammy, orange. Finish: Seville orange bitterness with some wood, very long. This remains a fantastic dram. Happy to have a couple of bottles at home.
106.18 27yo 1985 Bottled essence of summer (52.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 197b) (me): a rare sight, this distillery. Nose: alcohol! Some wood, varnish, diffuse pipe tobacco, sea-related shenanigans, then frangipane. With water: jammier, and a distant touch of cedar wood. Mouth: it stings, though it is tolerable. Quite creamy, interestingly enough, honeyed. With water: thinner, now. Better alcohol balance, but better without water, probably. Finish: long, silky smooth, milk chocolate, lemon, after a while. Very good, this! Pity there is none for sale, as it is a rare distillery. The alcohol is not extremely well integrated in the finish, hence it loses a point. 8/10
77.26 23yo 1987 A foodie dram (55.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 246b) (JS): nose: sawdust, varnish, torrefied or freshly ground coffee. Mouth: drying, spicy (pepper), resinous. Finish: fiery pepper with more sawdust. Another nice one, this. Could not drink litres of it, though.
71.34 13yo 1998/2011 Rabbit, ginger & treacle tart (56.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Gorda, 830b): nose: thick soup and sulphur, game casserole. Mouth: invading beef stew, more than rabbit pot, this time. Finish: more stew, dark OXO broth, bordering on dessert, after a while. Still no ginger, but well. :-)
With that, we had fish & chips (JS), steak & ale pie (dom666) and veg' cannelloni (myself). Gutted it is not the blue cheese cannelloni any longer, but it was good all the same.
A fine evening, as usual. The staff was coming back from a "team-building" trip to Islay and were in jolly mood. I had a lukewarm argument with one about closed distilleries; he claimed it is a waste of time, as there are enough working distilleries to cater for all tastes, that they were closed for a good reason (namely: their output was bad, according to him) and people are only interested in them because of the names, so they can tick boxes. He reckoned one could spend a lifetime exploring the SMWS expressions of Laphroaig and never get bored, so why bother with closed ones?
Although the point is valid to some extent, I could not just sit there without reacting. Quite foolish, as that time was pretty much wasted. Oh, well. :-)