Our last J.G. Thomson blended malt is ‘Smoky’ – composed from a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and PX butts and hogsheads (though certainly with far more of the former). Positioned as “Not too sweet and not too rich..” – which seems sensible given the names of the other two current releases in the collection – this can be picked up from Master of Malt for £42.50.
Nose: Chiselled coastal peat smoke delivers charred and smoked meats alongside iodine and axle grease. Preserved lemon, sea water and hewn granite add interest and reinforce the likely presence of Caol Ila within the blend. There’s some additional, pleasing sweetness here – plump sultanas and golden syrup cake. Reduction offers limestone and engine oil together with earthy notes of ferns and bracken.
Taste: Surprisingly sweet with single and smoked golden syrups morphing into antiseptic cleaner, ash and chimney smoke. Salted caramel and sticky honey-roast pork cooked over hot coals joins the party. Dilution presents wet soils, smouldering vegetation and burnt tart cases alongside developing stone fruit cues.
Finish: Quite long with brine, lemon sugar and persistent medicinal ashiness.
‘Smoky’ works well off the shelf – and equally nicely when taken down a couple of degrees. Whilst the ABV police will have you believe that everything is better stronger – here there’s a purity and expressiveness that reveals itself (and the underlying distillate) when under a mite of reduction. Either way, this is my pick of the trio of the J.G. Thomson Blended Malts – whilst the proposition might have you thinking that being ‘smoky’ will just result in a glug of peated malt being shaken into something else - this isn't that, and the end result is surprisingly characterful.