Scotch Malt Whisky Society Outturn July 2010

Jun 30th, 2010

The new list arrived today in time for this Friday’s release, which for the guys in the Marketing team I have to say this is one of first times it’s came before the list is out.

For those not familiar with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society its a member club specialising in single cask single malt whisky from around the world. They have a panel of eight people who choose the whisky, but importantly the panel members change regularly.

SMWS is a treasure chest of great tasting notes and some fantastic whiskies.  The Members Bars use a colour coded system to indicate price putting something like a single cask ,cask strength, 40 year old Longmorn at approx. £23 a dram (which is almost as good value as the Master of Malt Drinks by the Dram) or £185 a bottle.

This months list has 21 whiskies listed and the one I’m most excited about is a 9 yo Glen Moray (35.36). This has spent it’s life in a second fill Chardonnay barrique, 233 bottles, 59.3%ABV.

For those who might not know a barrique is an oak barrel originating from Bordeaux, France.  The capacity is 225 litres.   There are dozens of other barrel shapes and sizes – the most common is a hogshead (249 litres).

The porous nature of an oak barrel allows some levels of evaporation and oxygenation to occur in whisky but typically not at levels that would cause oxidation. In a year, the typical cask can lose whisky through evaporation, know as” the Angels share”.

This evaporation (of alcohol and water) allows the whisky to concentrate its flavour and aroma compounds. Small amounts of oxygen are allowed to pass through the wood and acts as a softening agent upon the tannins of the Whisky.

The chemical properties of oak itself can have a profound effect on the spirit. Phenols within the wood interact with the new make to produce vanilla type flavours and can give the impression of tea notes or sweetness.  The degree of “toast” or “char” on the inside of the cask can also impart different properties affecting the flavour levels of the Whisky which can come over as the aggressive wood flavours. The hydrolyzable tannins present in wood, known as ellagitannins, are derived from lignin structures in the wood. They help protect the whisky from oxidation and reduction.

Well I’ll be at SMWS on Friday, so more to come on the weekend…

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