SMWS C5.1 “A Tapestry of Flavours”

Spicy Sour Fresh Coastal Oily Earthy Fruity Sweet
Cask * Spirit ** Peat – Complexity **

Review 2017-049 «Specifics» Cognac • XO • 44.9% 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 (483 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. Obviously some new bottlings were also released in the August outturn. I was lucky to receive some samples from the SMWS for tasting, including this interesting Cognac from the Grand Champagne region.


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 unusually normal. Has the stuff that they have allegedly been smoking stopped working?

NOSE. My first impression is that this is unexpectedly oily, earthy and chalky, but in a fresh kind of way (sound mysterious, doesn’t it?). Then ripe melons, white grapes, and some Riesling wine. It is definitely cognac, however, there is something very distinguishable from the mainstream bottlings. (water) I do detect a hint of smoke, in cognac, really (qu’est que c’est ca?). It is not peat, but a different kind of smoke. Furthermore some roasted nuts, walnut oil, a hint of tropical fruits (pineapples and bananas) and faint hints of gasoline and Velpon glue.

TASTE. Wet limestone, twigs, some pineapples, rain water, watermelon, apples, some strawberries. Does this make sense? It all has a very Campbeltown feeling about it. This might have well been selected by a former Springbank employee. Certainly not overly sweet, which is good in my book. (water) Slight smoke, some olives, champagne, and incense. All very elegantly mixed. Light fruitiness and minerals. Very relaxing.

VERDICT. What an interesting choice by the people at the SMWS. Much more towards whisky than other cognacs. I think this might please some lovers of Springbank, Kilkerran or even Clynelish. The only critical comment is that is still misses some maturation, a couple of more years. And the price is slightly overestimated (ok, this were two critical comments then).

Recommended for adventurous admirers of Campbelltown whisky during their holidays in France.

Many thanks to the SMWS for the sample!

«What others say»

  • @Benswhisky: “Highly recommended” Score: A++
  • @Philipstorry: “A superb cognac that doesn’t quite deliver on the palate what it promises on the nose – but still well worthwhile” Score: 3.5/5
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