SMWS 36.110 Lip-smacking, gum-smacking, gob-smacking


I've neglected the Scotch Malt Whisky Society this year so far. It's been for a variety of reasons and these have been echoed by friends and fellow enthusiasts. Change isn't necessarily for the best but its something you have to go along with to see the end the result and display some patience.

Since the SMWS was purchased by a private investment group there have been many changes behind the scenes and in front of house. Most visible to me is the revamp of the Queen Street branch which has become a very plush destination after becoming a little tired. Some of these changes do make sense with the restaurant requiring a more suitable floor layout and the downstairs bar providing a selection of non-SMWS releases in a bar that anyone can visit.

Climbing up the wonderful spiral staircase you can reach the members level and this where we record some of the audio interviews and roundtable discussions for Whisky Rover. Many of the once familiar members of staff are no longer to be seen; a new crowd has arrived in town. I'll give the venue a chance and whilst some releases remain affordable at the bar this will ensure my visitation.

Other SMWS changes include the charging of postage; well we had it good for a while so no surprise there. Bottle prices do seem to be on the up which is just the whole whisky realm again. What I do find more concerning is that to meet the requirements of each sizeable outturn whiskies are being bottled at younger ages (when they're just not ready) or cask finishes utilised to hide that that ain't up to scratch.

So its with a little caution that I approached this Benrinnes bottled earlier this year by the Society. Now Benrinnes can from my experiences pack a punch on flavour so much so that there have been some absolutely bonkers releases from the distillery. This reminds me I do have a couple of these said bottles to review. It's always a very entertaining whisky and one that alongside Cragganmore is a hidden Speyside gem. I'll step aside for any Benrinnes history for now, seeing I have a backlog from this distillery.


This Benrinnes was distilled on 14th August 2002 and bottled at 13 years of age at 51.7% vol from a first fill bourbon cask. This resulted in just 102 bottles from the cask with some still available online at the SMWS for a decent £56.10. Enough of the label, lets deal with the contents and the high billing of that bottle name.

Colour: a sandy beach
Nose: interesting as its caramel wafers and beeswax. There is a worn leathery quality, something that's been loved and adored. With water vanilla ice cream, olives and pine wood.
Taste: a real spicy quality and a lingering honey finish that still continues as a I type this. It's still going strong. Then at the end a creaminess as the last boast of flavour. Back to the beginning and its walnuts, a touch of ginger, butterscotch and milk chocolate with over-ripe mangos and Ovaltine. 

Overall: a criminally underrated distillery, this is another winner from Benrinnes. I really should look out for more from this distillery, as the spirit is excellent and with a good cask you're left in awe.

This sample was purchased by me as part of a bottle share.

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