For nearly two years, Chris Rickert (owner of Hansemalt and organizer of Hanse Spirit) was the official brand ambassador for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in my hometown of Hamburg. Sadly, the two parties went separate ways at the end of 2018. However, since Chris owns a vast collection of SMWS whiskies – including over 100 bottles that are open and ready for sipping – he decided to continue hosting suchlike tastings. Earlier this week, I attended his first event of this nature, labeled “Twins & Twins”. The name derives from the fact that we compared two so-called twin bottlings, i.e. whiskies that were created by filling the same new make into the same cask type on the same day. As an encore, we also degusted an independently bottled Bowmore 10yo from the late 80s plus additional picks from Chris’s well-stocked shelves.
The first pair of twins were two Longmorns called “Almond biscuits and chocolate fondue” (7.144) and “Cleopatra meets Robin Hood” (7.157), both of which streamed out of the still on 22 September 2003. Typically of Longmorn Distillery, which is held in high esteem among blenders, both drams were sweet and fruity with a refined character and a strong backbone. In the nose, they offered a lot of vanilla and toffee as well as pineapple and other yellow fruits. In the mouth, the fruit salad was particularly strong. It was accompanied by vanilla sauce, baked goods and quince puree. The finish was long and fruity with a slight bitterness. While these two twins were pretty similar to each other, I found the 7.144 to be lighter and fresher, whereas the 7.157 seemed more woody and complex. Congrats to “Mama Longmorn” for giving birth to such beautiful kids!
The next two siblings came from Linkwood Distillery. One was called “Sangria in an artist’s studio” (39.146), while the other answered to the name “A whale of a time” (39.159). They both came into our world on 14 May 2008. Unlike the Longmorns we had before, these Linkwoods were not just similar, but almost identical. If I had not known better, I would have thought that both of my glasses contained the same spirit. When sniffed, the 39.146 and the 39.159 revealed a floral character with field flowers, brittle chips, cough drops, fresh leaves and sweet berries. When savored, they flexed their muscles aplenty and numbed the mouth in a pleasant way. Besides violet pastilles and unripe bananas, I now also made out pancakes with orange jelly. In the long aftertastes of both drams I found the aforementioned floral and pastry notes as well as something that reminded me of modelling clay. Even though I personally liked the first duo a tad more, this twosome was great fun as well.
Before we could move on to the big finale in the form of an “old label” Bowmore 10yo from 1989 with the bottle code 3.52, we witnessed a little stunt. During the opening process of this vintage Islay gem, the age-worn cork broke in two. Not losing his cool, Chris got the unwanted piece of wood out of the bottle with the aid of a bin bag and then ran precious liquid through a coffee filter. Thanks god he managed to save the whisky, because it was oh-so-good! When Chris sniffed the bottle right after the cork incident, he already proclaimed that this would be special. And he was right! The lush bouquet had that typical Bowmore mixture of peculiar fruits and well integrated peat. Besides ashy smoke, burnt wood and juicy oranges it also was quite sulfurous – here, the brimstone did not seem like an off-note though. It constituted a fine complement to the other notes. The sipping and swallowing was equally amazing. There was a lot going on in the mouth: purple wine gums, violets, plums, ash trays, dark chocolate, cocoa beans, fir cones, sparklers and cassis. All flavors were completely evened out and in wonderful harmony with each other. After gulping down the last drop, a single thought formed in my mind: Gimme more, more, more… of this Bowmore!
In the three hours that we sat together, we chatted and storyfied and laughed a lot. The concept was witty, the mood was cheerful, the drams were great, the snacks were tasty. And as always when Chris invites drammers into his whisky sanctum, the event did not end with the last glass being emptied. Once the official part was over, me and the other attendees were invited to pick whatever whisky we desired from over twenty additional SMWS bottles. So I finished the evening on a Laphroaig 19yo (29.247) and a Cameronbridge 38yo (G4.15). Those were not twins, of course. But each in its own way was an absolute treat!
Longmorn 12yo (7.144) (Single Malt / Speyside/ 61.8% / 210 bottles / ?? EUR)
Longmorn 12yo (7.157) (Single Malt / Speyside / 60.9% / 186 bottles / ?? EUR)
Linkwood 8yo (39.146) (Single Malt / Speyside / 61.8% / 218 bottles / ?? EUR)
Linkwood 9yo (39.159) (Single Malt / Speyside / 62.4 / 221 bottles / ?? EUR)
Bowmore 10yo (3.52) (Single Malt / Islay / 58.4% / 299 bottles / ?? EUR)