NEWS : Scotch Malt Whisky Society Gathering 2019

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) held their first Gathering Festival this year at The Vaults in Leith to celebrate all things SMWS.

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I joined them for their Whisky and Food pairing evening hosted by their two expert ambassadors Andrew and Mathew. The event was held in the SMWS lounge at The Vaults.

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We started off with three drams and a charcuterie platter. SMWS are using local produce and producers from the Leith area as much as possible and we enjoyed some cured meats from East Coast Cured located on Restalrig Road in Leith.

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First Up, Truffled Salami paired with Cask No 107.15 - Strawberry Feels. A Speyside whisky, 240 bottles, 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel. 57.1%

The whisky is sweet, fruity and mellow. You’ll taste a fruit salad, lemon peel and strawberries but pick up the aroma of butterscotch popcorn and vanilla. The salami is quite oily but the whisky most certainly cuts through this. An interesting pairing.

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No 2 - A french garlic sausage paired with Cask No 66.143 - Steam Trains and Puffers. A Highland whisky, 237 bottles, re-fill ex-bourbon hogshead. 55.8%

This whisky is lightly peated but I could pick up raisins and coconut almost like a Christmas fruit cake. On the palate you’ll pick up liquorice, smoke and coffee with some zest and definitely a salty finish. The whisky changes the taste of the sausage completely making it very peppery.

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No 3 - A creamy cheddar paired with Cast No 44.105 - Al Fresco Dining. A Speyside whisky, 161 bottles, re-fill ex-bourbon barrel. 60.8%.

This whisky is oily and coastal. On the nose its the smells of Italian dining - garlic, olives, chorizo, olive oil and pepper. This whisky makes the cheese sweeter.

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We stopped for some dinner and enjoyed a large warm chicken salad. There were more whiskies to come, so a break was necessary.

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The next three drams were paired with doughnuts from the Kilted Donut in Leith.

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No 4 - A Savoury Doughnut with black pudding and roasted red pepper and tomato relish paired with Cask No 50.102 - Golden leaves falling on fruitcake. A Lowland whisky, 166 bottles, 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel. 59.1%.

I didn’t enjoy this doughnut. My brain just couldn’t get around the fact that it was savoury! This whisky smelt incredible; think ginger, nutmeg, sticky fruitcake batter with sultanas, dates, apricots, cherries and orange. On the palate its zesty, spicy with lots of ginger.

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No 5 - A Sweet Savoury Bacon Doughnut paired with Cask No 134.2 - Lip-smacking and Cockle-warming. A whisky from Goa, India. 168 bottles, re-fill ex-bourbon barrel. 58%.

The whisky was the surprise of the night. The nose is sweet (honey, candy) with wood influence and the palate has an initial sweetness followed by spices of anise and chilli. Delicious. A good pairing with the bacon and the sweetness of the doughnut.

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No 6 - A Cranachan Doughnut paired with Cask No 112.48 - A Piece of Paradise. A Highland whisky, 280 bottles, 2nd fill ex-bourbon hogshead. 55.2%.

Great doughnut (just how a doughnut should be). This whisky is juicy with oak and vanilla. I picked up pink chewing gum on the nose and some mint and ginger. It was very clean and fresh on the palate.

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SMWS have whisky tastings and whisky & food tastings throughout the year open to members and general public.

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SMWS has one of the widest collections of singles malts in the world. All their whiskies are bottled at cask strength and are not subjected to chill filtration or any other interference, so you can enjoy a dram as if it were straight from the cask. The net result is bottlings that often surprise, as well as delight, and which accurately reflect the remarkable variety in the craft of distillation, as well as the infinite complexities of wood, spirit and time, which can only be uncovered in a single cask bottling.

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