Smögen’s single casks – particularly the sherried ones – don’t tend to hang around too long here in the UK. This 11 year old single cask (48/2011) seems to have fared a little longer thus far. It’s produced from heavily peated barley that’s been fully matured in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel. A 50cl bottle will set you back the sum of £153.60 from Master of Malt.
Nose: Immediate chiselled minerality and salinity. These are set against prominent underlying maltiness – flap jacks and toasted cereals. Pear and gooseberry drive a fruity core forward whilst coastal-tinged smoke and shale gas are joined by hay lofts, dried grasses, clay and putty. Reduction offers a broader selection of aromas – apple juices, and underripe pineapple alongside jelly baby sweetness and angelica.
Taste: A fatty and buttery arrival that drinks exceptionally well for 61%. Exceptionally salty and with potent smoke influence – scorched pumice stone, crumbled granite, brine and rock pools set against smoked rock salt and beach fires. White grapes and very tart underripe green apples are joined by a savoury character of beef dripping spread across toast and a handful of surprisingly salty pretzels. Water once again expands the playing field – granulated coffee and dusty vanilla sit with lemon balm whilst still persistent saltiness is joined by an aside of pepper.
Finish: Long and determinedly mineral. Slate and rock pools offset against oatmeal and barley flakes.
If you’re not into salty whiskies, this Smögen single cask is likely going to prove something of a struggle - it possesses biting salinity from start to finish. This said (and long-time readers will know that I do indeed very much enjoy salty whiskies), the underlying malty character of the distillate can be felt throughout and to my palate it marries exceedingly well with the more rugged notes of minerality and a smoke character that’s potent, but far from overbearing. Enjoyable stuff – but the price point won’t be tempting too many newcomers I fancy.
Review sample provided by Highfern Ltd on behalf of Smögen Distillery
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