Scotch Malt Whisky Society May 2020 Outturn Overview

Posted by Dave on 2020 May 8th

Scotch Malt Whisky Society May 2020 Outturn Overview

Well, hard to say that spring has sprung – I spoke with a member who got 4 inches of snowfall on his farm yesterday morning. But, one thing we know, even through all this Albertan weather, social distance, through all the ambiguities of modern life, the one thing we can hold onto as an absolute fact, and cannot possibly, reasonably disagree about, is that, it is certainly, indubitably, May.

So, as last month, I’ll give an overview of the Outturn whiskies, with a view to writing about them in a more straightforward, probably less interesting way than you might find in the tasting panel’s notes, but hopefully shed just another shaft of light on these whiskies.

Also note that, horray, we have three more whiskies to look forward to in a couple weeks, in a mid-month release, just in time, as we start to re-open in this province, to, blossom, if you will, as the snow mould dies off and the finer fragrances of this heightened olfactory time of year drift in.

If you’ve been missing the usual monthly ramblings on the significance of smell and taste, check out Ann-Sophie Barwich’s article It’s hard to fool a nose which seriously explores those senses from a philosophical, scholarly angle. An interesting read to sip a whisky to.

58.33 Sweet and juicy – dry finish (Sweet, fruity & mellow)

This is a profile that I really enjoy, and I think can sometimes get lost in a lineup of expressive, peculiar, punchy whiskies. One of those slow & steady drams. The raw, directness of a youthful whisky. Fun candies on the nose, brings to mind Runts, and those spongy, impossibly red strawberry marshmallow things. The name doesn’t lie – the whisky is lush and fruity on the palate, yet it finishes pleasingly crisp and dry, though not thin. Black tea mentioned in the tasting notes is on the money. Beckoning.

Give it a try if you’re looking for a palate-exciter aperitif whisky before a meal to get the juices flowing.

Old Fashioned

Finally! Been looking forward to this one for a while. I’ve been a fan of the blended malts the SMWS has released so far, particularly Exotic Cargo, and this one bears some similarities to that series in its full body, and rich texture. Where Exotic Cargo went full ripe, fresh fruit, Old Fashioned goes to the nuttier, leatherier side of sherry, tied in with some excellent fresh oak spice. Also interesting to note that this whisky was aged for a brief period in casks that previously held Double IPA beer. I can’t say that I really perceive much influence as far as IPA goes, and considering the unusual maturation regime, everything is surprisingly well integrated, with no one feature reaching up and overpowering anything else. I can’t say I see a similarity between this bottling and the cocktail of its namesake, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s an enjoyable whisky, but if absolutely nothing else, it’s something unique that I look forward to sampling and discussing with you all one day.

Give it a try if you’ve enjoyed the blended malt series so far from SMWS. These are unique whiskies for the Society in the sense that, they’re highly accessible and drinkable. Not the sort of whisky that is going to grab you by your lapels and shake the bejeezus out of you, but a different side of fine whisky – approachable, while remaining flawless and full of enjoyable, distinctive qualities. A trained nose will be able to spend some time with this and appreciate it, but it is a whisky equally at home in a less serious setting.

16.39 Sweetness and spice laced with mystery (Deep, rich & dark fruits)

Another whisky that saw an uncommon maturation. 17 years in a Port pipe, followed by the remainder of its maturation in a 2nd fill European Oak puncheon. For whatever reason, I’ve found that Port pipes can be dicey when it comes to whisky maturation. Sometimes they yield rich, ripe fruit, but a lot of time they comes off cardboardy and excessively ‘dunnage-warehouse-like’. For whatever reason, Port casks just seem a bit more temperamental and volatile than a standard Sherry butt, for whatever reason. This whisky doesn’t suffer from any of those faults – it shows incredible complexity and subtlety. On the nose, there definitely is a present but not overpowering component of dunnage (think musty wet earthen floors and old wood) balanced out by, I must agree with the tasting notes, bramble liqueur (it’s there!).

Give it a try if you like Sherry cask whiskies in this same age range and enjoy layered fruitiness, delicate sweetness, and a long finish. This is something off that beaten path, fresh and exciting, but not straying off into overly obscure and niche territory.

4.248 Emanating petrichor

A ‘tired old hogshead’ matured Highland Park. Glorious. The peat on this is not extreme, but it is there, and it is savoury, chewy, complex, sweet creamy vanilla woven in with car exhaust. Elemental. Petrichor, an excellent word you didn’t know you needed tucked under the ol’ cap, sure to make all your friends wince! Though, do consider that a particle identified in the profound smell of fresh rain, geosmin, can be detected by humans in concentrations as low as 5 parts per billion. Our ancestors unknowingly brought us this unfathomably strange, cosmic gift.

Somehow this is the weird bottling of the Outturn, which is impressive, considering the other whiskies it sits alongside that read so strangely on paper.

Give it a try if you liked 4.251 Armchair dancing dram (which was distilled just one day prior), and enjoy Highland Park matured in Bourbon casks.

Another tasty Outturn, I’d say. Thanks for reading, and as always, shoot me an email ( if you have any questions or comments about the Outturn whiskies, or anything Society related in general, always happy to chat.