SMWS C4.1 “A tantalising tightrope”

Spicy Sour Spirity Coastal Oily Smoky Fruity Sweet
Cask * Spirit ** Peat – Complexity **

Review 2017-086 «Specifics»  Cognac • XO • 57.5% Alcohol • Matured for a minimum of 6 years in a cognac barrel • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Sourced from an undisclosed distillery (Grande Champagne, France) • Bottled by Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) • Edinburgh • Scotland • Limited availability (478 bottles) • Not available anymore (price £95)

STORY. The Scotch Malt Whisky Association (SMWS) is known for releasing interesting, and often unusual, bottlings from Scottish distilleries. Occasionally, they stray away from their intended path and come with a single cask grain whisky, bourbon, cognac or rum. To streamline these occasional releases, they have now put them under the umbrella of the Single Cask Spirits. The inauguration in August 2017 went along with the announcement of a new bottle design and of the new brand ambassadors Ian Burrell (rum), Michell Brachet (cognac) and Geraldine Coates (gin), representing the main spirit categories of the new range. The August outturn revealed some of their new bottlings, including this awkwardly named Cognac from the Grand Champagne region. It was also among the samples that I gratefully received from the SMWS.


APPEARANCE. The new designs of the bottle and label are stylish and modern, I like them. As advertised, we have here unaltered spirits with a honest colour. The name they gave to this bottling is usually abnormal. Hmm, what to expect? A spirit which is nervously trying to keep its balance?

NOSE. It starts off with prickling orange soda or, if you are in the mood, champagne on a sunny terrace in the morning sun. There is some freshness coming through like an early morning breeze accompanied by fresh pineapple, freshly pressed orange juice, unripe mango and a fruit salad. Add to the latter some marinated olives and maybe olive or sunflower oil. In the back, I detect some surprising hints of turpentine. A painter initiating van Gogh’s sunflowers while enjoying a fancy healthy breakfast?

“A refreshing take on cognac”

TASTE. Fresh citrus-infused soda, a fruit salad, and a hint of candle wax. More ‘expected’ cognac notes are now coming through with white grapes, apples, a refreshing acidity and some floral notes. The taste is a bit thinner compared to the nose though. The high strength of 57.5% is not felt at all. No water needed.

MY THOUGHTS. A refreshing take on cognac, albeit not as surprising as the C5.1, but it is a very decent young cognac. Slightly high-priced compared to other more standard, cognacs of similar age, but we certainly want the SMWS to locate more of these single casks!

Recommended for summer evenings when you prefer something fresher.

Many thanks to the SMWS for the sample!

«What others say»

  • @Benswhisky: “Highly recommended” Score: A++
  • @Philipstorry: “A lovely easy drinker, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not interesting” Score: 4.5/5
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