SMWS Advent Calendar: Day 5

In the Netherlands we celebrate “Sinterklaas” on the evening of December the fifth. It’s basically the origin story of Santa Claus. If you’ve been good all year, you’ll get present. If you’ve been bad, you’ll get the “roe” (read. Lashes with a switch) or if you’ve been particularly bad, they’ll put you in their sack and take you with them to Spain. What a wonderful way to pressure your kids into behaving… *ahem*. I guess tonight we’ll find out if I’ve been good and get rewarded with a nice dram, though I would have also settled for a trip to Spain.

Tasting Notes: Society Cask 108.49 “A Particular Kind of Beauty”

ABV: 65,3% (130,6 proof)

Age: 10 years old

Distillery: Allt-a-Bhainne

Bottled By: the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Category: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SMWS Flavour Profile: Peated

Chill-filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes


The nose of this peated Allt-a-Bhainne offering from the SMWS is rather delicate as far as peated whiskies go. Despite it’s high ABV there’s barely any ethanol noticeable at all. Instead, I find soft whisps of peat – intermingling with lemon and vanilla – in my glass. There’s also a faint hint of powdered sugar. Suddenly the image of Pastel de Nata comes to mind, and from that point on I keep finding it on the nose of this dram. A few drops of water propel the peat forward, making it the dominant element on the nose.


There’s quite a contrast to the nose with this palate. Where the nose was a delicate appetizer, this is a full main course. There’s a lot of sweetness in this dram, that makes me think of sipping undiluted strawberry lemonade. Which is most likely a result of ageing this whisky in an ex-red wine barrique. The peat comes with a roaring thunder though. It’s more a wood smoke peat (think Talisker) than a vegetal peat (think Islay). There’s a bread note in there as well and those three elements blend beautiful. It paints a picture in my mind of camping holidays as a child. Baking bread on sticks around the campfire, while sipping lemonade that you secretly spiked with half the bottle of syrup. Water doesn’t change any aspects of the dram, but it does make them even more pronounced. Which I don’t mind one little bit.


The finish is not at all what I expected after the nose and palate. Where high ABV and peat – in my experience – usually leave a long finish, this dram only has a medium length one. There’s also barely any peat on it at all. Instead, there’s a strong presence of winegums remaining on the tongue. Including a slight bitter tingle like you can sometimes find after eating too much of them. The strawberry syrup is still very much present as well and it does remain quite long, but it becomes weak rather fast. Which is why I decided to call it a medium finish length dram. A tiny amount of water lengthens the finish of this dram, and it transforms the winegums into honey-glazed ham. Absolutely delicious.


I stated before that today’s whisky would help me find out if I’ve been good this year, but I’m conflicted to answer that question after tasting what was in my glass. It’s not just good, it’s amazing. Unfortunately, it’s also sold out. Which means I will never be able to fulfil my longing for another glass of. Which makes it quite bittersweet. This suits my palate so well, that I wouldn’t just put it on my Christmas list, I’d mark it with a star and repeat it six times. Just to make sure that everybody knows what to get me. Because I want to experience these drops of heaven time and time again.



How did I know this was a Allt-a-Bhainne? Just look at the code and find it’s match in my SMWS bottle codes list!

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