I LOVED the Glen Scotia Campbeltown Festival 2022 8 year old PX finished whisky. It’s ticked all my boxes. Sensibly priced, naturally presented, pantaloons bursting with flavour both big and bombastic but also containing layers of flavour. A nose that could have appeared in Life of Brian (you know the bit) and a great balance of flavours. It got it all right. But one thing about it had me wondering. ‘What would it taste like without the well judged PX overcoat?’
Well. Now, thanks to the boyos at the SMWS, I think I know. How nice!
So, this SMWS Glen Scotia is essentially the same 8 year old (give or take) that would have gone into the festival bottling (though a single Malt rather than this single barrel) minus the PX and you can really feel it. Right down in its bones, defrocked. Nowt to hide behind. This feels like a peek behind the curtain or inside the magician’s Magic cabinet. What’s it like? Hmmm?
On the nose and it is a very clean, well defined sooty, ashy peat, creamy, rich and bursting with an almost Wriggly's juicy-fruit infused character. There lots of melon and white fruits and the peat is smooshed into the fruit with delicious bourbon notes and vanilla pods and liquorice. Nice creamy Murray mints are colliding with some sort of vague chocolate mouse or old fig(?) and sweet nectar and a little watered down honey. And the bourbon barrels feel completely at home in there with everything else going on. Oooh it’s nice. This feels fresh and lively and full of vigorous intention without getting too prickly or rough. It’s got that nice balance between all its bits that makes me think it’s going to sock it to me and deliver on all these olfactory promises. If it’s anything like the PX festival bottling I’ll be pleased as punch. Enough blathering - get in my mouth, young’n.
Mmmmmm oh yes. Clean, fruity, not quite crystalline, more a muscular slightly salty, peaty soot. It’s weird but clean is a sense I get from this. Clean soot. The abv launches the flavours into the palate, the sweetness explodes, the peat is wrapped in a nice oaky ginger punch with some smoked charcuterie, some brine, toffee of some description, a creaminess in the mid palate swirls around with the salt and oak stopping things from becoming too drying, sweet minty toffees, more of that liquorice arrives - just a little, ooh. It’s a bit nice. With a dash of water and things become a little less sweet, more herbal and ‘serious’. It’s better nearly neat. Keeping the sweetness in the arrival suits it to a tee. What a cracker.
So, underneath the Festival 8year old, based on this, I think it’s safe to say they weren’t trying to hide a thing. This is a thumper of an 8 year old. Bursting with sweet, clean sooty peat, bristling with sugary ginger and creamy wood and salty toffee.
No hiding. Everything on show (down to its knickers). It’s all good!