Single-Cask Saturdays – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)

Single-Cask Saturdays – SMWS, 30.118 ‘Head in the Clouds’

Our second Single-Cask Saturdays feature is taking a look at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) ‘Head in the Clouds’ release. A seven year-old Speyside release, that was matured in a 2nd fill ex-Oloroso butt. As with the Firkin Rare, Ledaig 2008 Marsala Cask, this particular single-cask has been produced by an independent bottler.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)

Founded in 1983 by Pip Hills, the SMWS exists “to share whisky in is purest form, and unite those of you with a passion for flavour, for variety, for fun….and for not always doing as you’re told”. Membership gets you access to members’ rooms, member events, an online magazine, and the monthly outturn of whisky. Plus there is a whole heap of optional extras for those who are especially keen!

We became members in the late Spring having seen lots of posts on Twitter and Instagram, and been drawn in by those creative bottle names! To be completely transparent, there can be a bit of a mad-rush to get your hands on specific bottles, and the prices can tip towards the more expensive side. However, if you’re just interested in sampling something a bit different (like us) then there are some great gems to be found.

The labels of each bottle are filled with useful information. Most interestingly the code system. For example – 30.118 – 30 refers to the distillery (in this case Glenrothes) and the 118 refers to the number of single casks that have been bottled from that distillery. You can find out more about their labelling and flavour profiles here.

Glenrothes Distillery

Established in 1897 by Mr James Stuart and Rev. William Sharp, the Glenrothes Distillery is located in the heart of Speyside in a town called Rothes. To this day they rely on processes started in 1897, aiming to make their whisky “with integrity, authenticity and, above all, with expert craft”.

Tasting Notes

Distilled in 2013, this whisky has spent seven years maturing in a 2nd fill ex-Oloroso sherry butt. Bottled at a hefty 67% ABV it is one of the stronger whiskies to sit on our shelf. Given the high ABV we felt that ‘Head in the Clouds’ was an appropriate first impression, as chances are your head would be in the clouds if you had too much! We’re sure that’s not why it was given it’s name, but it’s a fitting introduction.

Cask Number: 30.118
Bottles Produced: 553
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-Oloroso butt
Distilled: 3 June 2013

Each SMWS bottle is allocated to one of 12 flavour profiles. These flavour profiles are not designed to be an exhaustive way of describing the whisky. Instead they should be used as a guide to help you find flavour profiles you enjoy. This particular bottle falls into the ‘Deep, Rich and Dried Fruits’. Typically these whiskies will have notes of marmalade, glazed fruits, demerara sugar, toffee, and salted caramel.

“Chocolate-covered hazelnuts serves with iced caramel cloudy macchiato, followed by dark chocolate mousse and blue raspberry liquorice wheels”

Nose: marzipan, chocolate, Nutella, creamy hazelnuts, chocolate covered raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate-coffee, summer grass
Palate: oak spice, caramel, honey, dark chocolate, quite malty, smooth and creamy texture, nutty, chewing coffee beans, raspberry syrup
Finish: liquorice, cereal milk, oak spice builds

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Decadent. Luxurious. Opulent. We have selected this dram as our favourite SMWS because it truly feels like a treat. Coupled with the price-point of £53.90 and you don’t have any guilt about frequently enjoying a dram. The sweetness, richness, and deep fruity flavours lend themselves to dark evenings; a post-dessert drink.

We found it particularly difficult to chose a favourite SMWS release of this year. We have only tasted a handful of their output, and have been so impressed with each dram. It’s a great way to try single-cask whisky in a friendly environment, and also sometimes try things that are just a little bit different.

As we look forward to 2022, we think we will continue to share our SMWS bottles throughout the year, instead of giving ourselves the headache of picking just one at the end of the year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s