Whisky Review Roundup: Scotch Malt Whisky Society 2.88 & 35.106

, | September 28, 2018

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) are creators of fresh perspectives. They open up a new way of approaching whisky tastings, one that removes preconceived notions and branding. Through their labeling they supply a message that spirits, and Scotch whisky specifically, doesn’t necessarily have to be graded based on which distillery it comes from or what region dictates its style. Rather, when you open a bottle from SMWS, you approach it with an open mind and palate so that you can taste with feelings and emotions. In this experience, the unknown is the gift that the SMWS creates.

For more information on what the SMWS is all about you can visit our recent write up or check out their website. In short, it is a club designed to promote adventurous spirits education and experiences. They focus on selecting barrels from various distilleries throughout the scotch whisky world, and rather than label them as most single barrel bottlings do, they give them a code and a description. Tasting notes follow the description, just as subtitles in a document further describe the content. It allows for a blind tasting opportunity of each bottle. This keeps your mind from wandering towards expectations, and allows for truthful discovery.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society 2.88 & 35.106 (image via Cameron Holck/The Whiskey Wash)

 Review: 2.88 Cinderella Weeping Over Matchmakers 

47.1% ABV, aged 20 years, one of 270 bottles, distilled September 16th 1993, refill hogshead and ex-bourbon casks.

Before even opening the bottle, the name alone creates an intensity of curiosity. A love story heroine depressed by matchmaking is a dramatic introduction to any sort of situation. Without continuing on to the tasting notes, we begin with an appearance of burnt straw or a light wildflower honey, as if the liquid is already an old soul with a long life ahead. Very transparent for a 20 year, proof of purity.

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On the nose I am initially hit with a honey sweetness and baking spice. Next fresh berries and vanilla come through much like a fresh cobbler topping from a Dutch oven. Savory melon and toasted pine carry create a savory need to taste.

Hot chocolate and vanilla open up, but as the initial sweetness dissipates a slight fresh herb and butter note creates a very pleasant taste and mouthfeel. Spice from the oak, and wonderful balance with the spirit depicts a ripe age for the barrel. A few drops of water to lower the proof and the saline quality is revealed with a long, dry finish.


Review: 35.106 Fantastically Floral

Vital Stats: 54.4% ABV, aged 16 years, one of 205 bottles, distilled December 17th 1996, 1st fill designer barrel.

The title for this one sets your expectations slightly easier than the last. The appearance is almost see-through, changing anything on the other side of the glass to a faded sunflower shade of yellow.

This is a highly aromatic dram (as expected). Floral, with lilac and rose and a slight undertone of charred artichokes. It’s as if you are in a spring meadow a few hours after a rain, surrounded by bees gorging on the millions of flowers around you.

Initial taste pops your eyes open with surprise and excitement. White chocolate covered snap pea flowers, if such an item, would be the culinary equivalent to the first sip. Extremely viscous and mouth coating, almost as if you are drinking coconut oil. This must come from a large still where the new make danced for hours and hours before making its way into the condenser. Once the proof is cooled with a few drops of water, more subtleties arise in the form of almond desserts and peaches. Extremely complex, no doubt everyone will find something new and exciting in this one.

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Final Thoughts:

After this experience I’d be surprised if I don’t join the SMWS. Unique, incredible barrels like these should be experienced in the fashion they are promoting. The SMWS respectfully declined my request to reveal the source of the barrels, but I did find a couple hints online. The Cinderella weeping over Matchmakers is a lovely expression of a magical barrel from what one online source claims is The Glenlivet. The Fantastically floral is an expression potentially made at the Glen Moray distillery, also from Speyside.

Because this is one of the most exciting whiskies I have every tasted, I am convinced that designer barrels can have as big of an impact as the creator would hope for. Overall, these two bottles are a tribute to the quality and passion of the SMWS. Cheers!

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Cameron Holck

After graduating with an engineering degree in Colorado, Cameron Holck discovered his passion for hospitality. He followed his love of the outdoors into the Pacific Northwest where he continues his dedication to bartending, and as a sales representative for Four Roses Bourbon. He warmly welcomes the fact that a night...