Bastille Day Tasting at SMWS The Vaults

smws Bastille day

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I haven’t been to a tasting at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society The Vaults in ages, but was so happy to be back for the Bastille Day tasting which included three single malts and two cognacs.

I always find the tasting at SMWS so fascinating because they have a great team of ambassadors and I just love a themed tasting! This time we were hosted by the lovely Julien, and who better since he is originally from France. He told us about many links between Scotland and France, a bit about the history behind Bastille Day and introduced three whiskies with different links to his home country.

SMWS Whiskies

Our first whisky was 72.110 Boozy Cherry Clafoutis – a 12 year old Miltonduff from 2009 that had been matured in 1st fill ex-bourbon and bottled at 55.7%. It offered cherry bakewell notes on the nose as well as powdery florals and bourbon whisky and was a lovely start to the tasting, reminiscent of French patisserie.

Our second whisky was actually one that Julien had brought from his own personal collection as he had bought two of the same whisky since it was one of two expressions from the society matured in limousine oak and he’s from that same region. This one was 112.53 and named Sophisticated Seductive Sazerac Cocktail. Initially matured in ex-bourbon hogsheads before it was moved to a 1st fill limousine oak hogshead for finishing. This Inchmurrin (Loch Lomond) was from 2004, making it 15 years old and bottled at 56.6%. It certainly had more of a spicy tone than the Miltonduff and the European oak certainly showed up on the palate. It had a spiciness that reminded me of rye whisky, but also some cloves, black pepper and honey.

Thirdly we tried the peated 108.49 A Particular Kind of Beauty which really stood out for me and was my favourite whisky of the evening. It immediately reminded me of smoked reindeer meat along with pickled ginger, bacon frazzles and an apple fruitiness. This 65.3% Allt-a-Bhainne was 10 years old finished in a scraped and charred refill ex-red wine barrique after initial maturation in an ex-bourbon hogshead. This was also the whisky that held up the best to the addition of water, whereas the others turned a little bit too bitter for my own liking. Now I’m even considering picking up a bottle because I really enjoyed it.

Before we headed in to the cognac part of the evening, we had a society dinner which was of course on theme in the form of a boeuf bourguignon with mashed potato. We also got a wee macaron (I’m guessing vanilla flavoured) to pair with the cognacs.

SMWS Cognacs

I actually hadn’t realised that the society isn’t offering much cognac or armagnac anymore and was quite sad to hear so as I’ve always enjoyed the ones I’ve tried before and because it’s such an interesting category, but unfortunately it seems they haven’t been doing that well.

The two cognacs were C2.1 Exquisitely Polished – an XO from Domaine de Chez Guérive in Petit Champagne bottled at 67% – and C7.1 A la Recherche du Temps Perdu which was a 33 year old, bottled at 62.2% from Guy Rateau in Petit Champagne. The first cognac was a lovely example of a well-balanced spirit which had many similarities to whiskies in its fruitiness and wood character, whilst keeping the grape derived characters underneath. This would definitely be a great one for those looking to move from whisky to cognac without too much of a jump. I’m so fascinated by cognac at the moment and would love to explore it further. This was definitely one I’d happily sip at any occasion.

Our second cognac was very much a cognac in its character with chalky floral tones, rich wood alongside soft dates, umami earthiness and refreshing yet dignified citrus. I unfortunately had quite a bad headache and had to head home immediately after the tasting so kept my sips very small but really wish I could’ve stayed for a chat with the rest of the group afterwards whilst enjoying the lovely variety this tasting offered.

Have you been to a SMWS tasting?

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Check out my Instagram @swedishwhiskygirl or @scandinavianabroad to see even more photos and follow along on future adventures.

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AUTHOR

Moa Nilsson

Adventurous Swede with a fondness for castles, snow and vintagesque experiences.

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