The Scotch Malt Whisky Society are one of the biggest independent bottlers around, and also one of the most intriguing.
The Society has existed since 1983 and is a members only club that wants to bring the very best drams to their audience. And they certainly achieve that.
They have a system of labelling that includes colours, numbers and quirky names, all of which has some meaning related to the liquid inside.
The numbers indicate where the dram was distilled, while the colours and name are a hint towards the flavour.
SMWS are big into their flavour profiles and have a list of twelve flavour profiles that they use to categorise malt.
They take this stuff very seriously, despite the sometimes ridiculous, but always entertaining, names.
Take Bouquets and Spades for example. Everyone loves a good pun, and this is definitely one of those. And yet it also tells us so much about the flavour of the dram as well, indicating that we’re about to be hit with a floralmalt with lots of seaside tones. And that’s exactly what you get!
Bouquets and Spade, also known as 3.295, was distilled at Bowmore, on the isle of Islay, in 1996, and matured in refill ex-Bourbon hogsheads.
It is packed full of flavour, which takes off right form the beginning.
The nose opens with lots of sugary goodness and a hint of pastries in the oven. There is a warming sense, brought about from a lovely cinnamon and nutmeg flavour.
The floral notes really do start to shine here, with lots of blossom and rose petals. Violets and a slight hint of lavender are also present.
The seaside tones aren’t as obvious on the nose, but they really make themselves known on the palate.
There are lots of sea salt and brine, with a lovely smoky quality to it. This is an oily dram, with a smooth and gentle mouth feel.
The sugar from the nose comes across here as candyfloss and vanilla flavoured caramel, tying in well with the smoke.
There is also a lovely fruity flavour that appears, with a distinctive citrusy tang to it.
The floral notes start to grow here too and the violets especially show themselves. These are perfect with the salty notes.
The finish is oily and packed with flavour. Lots of florals and a final kick of peat smoke to end.