This year Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) are celebrating their debut visit to the Islay Whisky Festival on the 22nd May with a Garden Party at the beautiful Islay House in Bridgend.
Garden Party guests will be offered some of the society’s single cask whiskies and there will be a number of tasting events and an evening of live jazz as part of the festivities.
In addition, the SMWS are releasing a special festival bottling which will be launched at the Garden Party and available for members and non-members to buy. We were lucky enough to receive a sample of this and our tasting notes are below.
SMWS 3.243 is a 17 year old peated malt from a refill sherry cask. Under the SMWS’ unique cask numbering system, the 3 shows this is from Bowmore distillery. It is bottled at 57.1% ABV and 594 bottles are being produced.
If you’re expecting a massive blast of peat, this is not that kind of whisky. The nose is very restrained and you get a little light smoke with sweet sherry fruit and nutty spice along the distinctive Bowmore bacon notes.
Water lightens the nose substantially, bringing out more sweet fruit.
Neat the first taste is lovely raisin sweetness which is quickly follow by darker notes; dark chocolate, liquorice and bitter coffee. Some sweetness returns with jammy notes before the smoke arrives in a big way and you get ashy smoke and light rubber in the finish.
The reduced taste is lighter and more fruity, but the smoke is also more dominant; honey glazed ham with BBQ ash.
We’ve reviewed sherried peated malts before on Braw Spirit and it remains a favourite style of ours. This 3.243 fits comfortably into that category and is worth seeking out for anyone who hasn’t tried it before, or indeed any of the SMWS’ vast range of bottlings.
It’s not a big smoke monster, but at the same time there is little doubt of it’s origins and the sherry cask brings a welcome depth of flavour making this a very pleasant dram. If the other distillery bottlings are like this one then it will be a great Feis Ile indeed!
Entry to the Garden Party is free and guests can enjoy two complementary SMWS cask samples, with Society members enjoying three. The gardens will be open to all from 12-6pm.
To book all event tickets, please visit the Islay House website.
Bottle 3.243 will be available for sale on Friday 22nd May, priced at £80 for SMWS members or £120 for non-members.
Big thanks to the SMWS for our sample.