Oranges, like clockwork.
I’ll be damned, I’m always a bit dubious of the concept album, same goes for the concept scotch but when it works it’s hard not to marvel at the genius at play.
The SMWS’s Old Fashioned is definitely a concept scotch of the first water. The mission, create a blended scotch that tastes like an Old Fashioned without the ingredients to make one. Except whisky. How the Hell is that possible?
I’ve had a few Old Fashioned’s, it’s my go to cocktail along with a Rusty Nail and a Dirty Martini. The best of which I’ve been served at the Midland Bar, St Pancras station, London. I can still taste it now, overwhelming quality bourbon warmth, vanilla, tight wooden structure, tannins, burnt orange oil, a huge, perfectly crystal clear mini iceberg sitting in the middle of a lovely heavy glass. Warmth and pristine coldness combined. Bliss. To be fair I can take or leave bourbon, it’s nothing I ever crave but in an Old Fashioned there’s no substitute.
So we come to this. This strange, wonderful thing.
On the nose, bourbon, warm vanillin’s, more bourbon and oak. Heaps of it in fact, broken up with bitter orange oil, burnt sage, burnt sugar and bitters. It’s very enticing. If someone told me this was bourbon, based on smelling it, I’d ask them “what else is in it?”.
In the mouth the damn thing is like the hardest hitting cocktail ever. A gigantic, rich bourbon hit comes rushing out of the glass, accompanied by vanillins and oranges and oak in huge waves. Astringent oak attacks the inner cheeks and sides of the tongue in a lovely way, a firm, masterful grip rather than strangling the taste buds. Terry’s Chocolate Orange rears it’s rotund head, which is a lovely surprise. Creamy Terry’s milk chocolate and orange oil is s killer combo. It feels like it should be too sweet, everything is telling me ‘it’s too dam sweet’, but here’s the rub, just like the cocktail it’s not. It’s perfect. God damn. This is very enjoyable. (Note to self - buy more!)
The finish is bang on. It just works. Far from being too short and not too overbearing to make the thing a labour. Oak and Orange and vanillin’s coat the tongue, there’s a bitter plant note in there too, very feint - could this be the hops from the IPA casks? Whatever it is it works, stops it being one dimensional. This is s scotch to savour and much as marvel at.
This is not a big serious whisky but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful and rewarding. It doesn’t require the deftness of palate of a scotch trainspotter, it doesn’t take itself that seriously but it’s no joke. It’s just as it needs to be. Just as they designed it. An Old Fashioned. Like clockwork.