SMWS Advent Calendar: Day 18

Another Sunday, another Live SMWS Advent Calendar tasting on Instagram with Tim (@singlemaltsnob) and Michiel (@whisky_in_a_labcoat). And tonight, we were surprised with Hits the Sweet Spot, a 17-year-old Glen Grant aged in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel. Unfortunately, this was also the last Sunday before Christmas of the Advent Calendar. Which means there will be no more live shows for this year’s advent calendar. We had so much fun though, that we did agree to do more live tastings in the future. Not necessarily SMWS or Advent themed, but just three friends sharing a couple of drams and talking about the things we discover in our glasses. But let’s get back to today’s dram, because we’re about to find out if it really… hits the sweet spot.

Tasting Notes: Society Cask 9.229 “Hits the Sweet Spot”

ABV: 55% (110 proof)

Age: 17 years old

Distillery: Glen Grant

Bottled by: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Category: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SMWS Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow

Chill-filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

When we approached the reason why they chose Hits the Sweet Spot as the name for this dram, immediately became obvious. There’s a thick layer of powdered sugar, and some caramel as well. Reminiscent of the snow caramel balls that were a childhood favourite at the local pharmacy. There’s also an ever so slight grassy note in there, but it’s fresh grass (not mowed grass which usually recalls a stronger connection for me). There’s some artificial fruit candy as well, like a fruittella. And there’s also a “cookies” note, specifically strawberry flavoured Liga cookies. Basically, this nose is stepping into a candy store. Water reveals more powdered sugar and turns down the artificial fruit notes a bit. But it remains very sweet.

Palate:

Right on the tip of the tongue, you’ll get a strong sense of those artificial fruit flavours. But this time around it’s the liquid fruit inside a hard candy. And not so much the creamier artificial fruit we found on the nose. But as soon as you reach past the tip of the tongue, the palate can become bitter to the point that it overwhelms the other flavours. It’s not an unpleasant bitterness, but it is overshadowing in a way. I’m also getting a beer note from this dram, similar to what you might find in a strong Belgian beer. Perhaps the bitterness of this dram reminds me of the bitterness in a beer somewhat. Adding water turns down the bitterness significantly, replacing it by some spiciness. It’s not a very expressive spice and it stays rather mild; in my mind a white pepper is what comes closest.

Finish:

The finish is nice and long on this dram. The bitterness from the palate mellows out in a very pleasant way, and it makes Hits the Sweet Spot a dram to really sit back and relax with. Some of that caramel and powdered sugar notes also make their way back into the finish. Making it more well rounded than the palate and the nose of this dram. In a way the finish brings the best of both.

Verdict:

We finally got a dram with a bit more of an age-statement. And this dram goes to show you that that tells you precisely… nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this dram quite a bit. But if I had tasted it blindly, I would have never given it 17 years. Perhaps the bitterness of the palate could hint at it, but even still I’ve had many an older dram that weren’t overly bitter at all. Which this dram’s palate can be at times. The sweetness of the nose is something I did like a lot, even if it can become a bit overwhelming at times. The finish is where this dram truly shines though. Everything becomes balanced out and it’s an absolute pleasure to just sit back and enjoy its afterglow for a while.

Rating:

82/100

How did I know this was a Glen Grant? Just look at the code and find it in my SMWS bottle codes list!

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