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SMWS 59.2 Teaninich 1980 12 Year Old




Whisky Review: SMWS 59.2 Teaninich 1980 12 Year Old

Tasting Notes:

Originally bottled for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SWMS) – each release is issued a unique numerical code denoting the distillery of origin and cask release, which purposely conceals the distillery’s identity ensuring drinkers will sample the whisky with an open mind, and without expectations of specific flavors. I couldn’t resist looking up the code first, revealing this vintage bottling is the second SMWS release from the Teaninich distillery. First distilled in 1980, and bottled in 1992 at approximately 12 years old, and a hefty 66.1%.
Pale Straw
Vanilla, oak, licorice, and furniture polish. A few drops of water reveal notes of green fruits, grapes, apples, and pears.
Initially flavors of oak, leather, and earthy licorice root. There’s an acidity and salty aspect to the dram but hold on the tongue to give way to a slight sweetness – notably fizzy cola bottle sweets. With a few drops of water, the acidity gains a green fruit aspect, apples, pears, and grapes – reminiscent of white wine. Also, a grassy, floral fresh hay aspect.
Short and drying, some oak and licorice once more – final hit or cola bottle sweets, or tart fruit white wine with water.
I think I’ve only had one quite sherried Teaninich previously, so I have little basis for comparison. This dram is how I enjoy my whisky, a single cask bottled at cask strength – although deceptive on the palate, you wouldn’t believe it was 66.1%. An unusual dram with some interesting flavor contrasts.
SMWS 59.2 Teaninich 1980 12 Year Old

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) was established in 1983 by Pip Hills, a single cask whisky enthusiast, as a way of sharing and discussing tasting experiences with other whisky lovers. Fast-forward 41 years, and SMWS has almost 40,000 members across the globe and has bottled some incredible whiskies. This includes the subject of today’s review: SMWS 59.2 1980 12 Year Old.

If you are unfamiliar with how SMWS names its bottles then this might be slightly confusing. Let’s break it down

SMWS Bottling Names & Copyright Law

According to UK law, and the specific protection laws surrounding scotch whisky, independent bottlers cannot outright use the name of a distillery on the label of a whisky it is bottling. For example, if Douglas Laing & Co. bottled a Macallan, they could not print the brand name ‘The Macallan’ on the label.

There are a few ways around this law. The loophole that is most commonly used by independent bottlers is that the place in which a whisky is distilled is a geographical place name. As geographical place names cannot be copyrighted, Douglas Laing & Co. (for example) could print ‘Distilled at The Macallan Distillery’ on the label of its bottling without breaching copyright.

The second – perhaps more confusing, but much more distinctive – is SMWS’s code system. In this system, each distillery that has had whisky bottled by SMWS is assigned a code. In this case, Teaninich Distillery is number 59. The number after the decimal point – ‘2’ in this case – refers to the number of bottlings of whisky from that particular distillery. So, this SMWS 59.2 is the second bottling of Teaninich whisky undertaken by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

In addition to adhering to copyright law, the code system also allows drinkers to approach a whisky with an open mind, having no idea of its origins.

Whilst the SMWS codes are still in use on today’s bottlings, the society now gives its whiskies distinctive names as well. For example, SMWS 5.112 is also called ‘Sweet Serenity and Teasing Musk’.

 A Brief History of Teaninich Distillery

Teaninich Distillery, established in 1817 by Captain Hugh Munro in Alness, Scotland, has evolved significantly over its history. Initially flourishing under Munro’s ownership, it faced financial difficulties and was sold in 1904. The 20th century brought modernization, including electricity and technological advances in the 1930s. After closing during World War II, Teaninich reopened in 1946 and expanded in the 1960s and 1970s, doubling its capacity and modernizing its facilities, moving away from traditional floor maltings.

The 1980s global whisky downturn led to a temporary closure, but the distillery bounced back with upgrades in the late 1990s, enhancing efficiency and production. Today, Teaninich combines tradition with modern techniques, focusing on sustainability and producing light, clean whiskies appreciated in blends and as single malts, contributing to Scotland’s rich whisky heritage.

Mark Bostock

Since joining Mark Littler LTD as a freelance article contributor in 2019, Mark Bostock has become an integral part of our UK content writing team. His enthusiasm for whisky, particularly independent bottlings, drives him to deepen his knowledge through frequent attendance at tasting events and the thoughtful expansion of his own whisky collection. This dedication not only fuels his passion but also enriches his contributions to our platform, blending expertise with a genuine love for the subject.

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