A Visit to the SMWS London – Five Drams, a Steak and a Review of a Divine Linkwood

My friend Richard Barr (@BarrRichard) is a miracle worker.

The Society in London has a monthly event in which you get a steak dinner and five drams out of the new outturn, and like all society events, this one sells out quickly. I get to London only once a year or so, but Richard – a fellow member of the Malt Mongers Israel Whisky Club – travels a lot and really gets to enjoy his SMWS membership. Richard called me right before I traveled to London the other month, and said that he’ll be in London the last night I will, and he got us tickets to the Steak and Whisky Tasting informal drop in. The event is less than a week away and it’s been sold out for weeks! Did I mention he’s a miracle worker?

Photo Credit: smwsevents.co.uk

Photo Credit: smwsevents.co.uk

We met at the Farringdon station and made our way up the Greville Street to the Society. There we got to choose our five drams, and ordered our steak dinners. I chose the 9.84 (25 year old Glen Grant in a refill sherry butt), the stunning 39.99 (23 year old Linkwood in refill bourbon hogshead), 76.121 (A lively 10 year old Mortlach in a first fill bourbon barrel), a fascinating Mannochmore (64.56, 13 years old in a first fill bourbon barrel) and I finished the evening with a lovely 18 year old Caol Ila (53.198, 18 year old from a refill sherry butt). Richard also got the Linkwood and the Caol Ila and enjoyed the 36.79 (a 14 year old Benrinnes), the 30.81 (a 23 year old beautiful Glenrothes designated the Tasting Panel’s Choice), and a rather peculiar Springbank (27.107, a 16 year old in a refill sherry gorda).

The steak was good, the whisky delicious and the company was excellent (cheers, Richard!).

Clans_Deep_Rich_Dried_FruitsScotch Malt Whisky Society 39.99 “Springtime in Andalucia” – Linkwood 23, outturn of 222 (58.9% ABV,  NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep gold with slow legs.

Nose: The nose on this dram is absolutely glorious and very atypical to a bourbon cask. I’d make a cologne out of it. You’ll find orange spice, butterscotch, vanilla, dusty cinnamon and warm baked goods.

Palate: Old spices, caramel and toffee, dusty orange in a mouth coating and surprisingly light mouth feel for a whisky that’s 58.9% ABV.

Linger: Long and warming quality with notes of lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg and oranges.


This is nothing short than an incredible expression. While coming from an ex bourbon barrel, it has qualities akin to a sherry matured whisky and is absolutely stunning. I could smell this one all day.

To be honest, had we not been only at the second of a five course whisky tasting, I would have probably spent another hour or so with this dram. I had no more room for bottles, but there are two bottles I truly regret not buying in London, and this is one of them. I do take some consolation in the fact that I have 50 ml of it from a bottle share, and that at some point in the future Richard will open the bottle he so wisely acquired  🙂

Thank you, Richard, for the invitation. I look forward to us being in London at the same time again soon.



3 comments on “A Visit to the SMWS London – Five Drams, a Steak and a Review of a Divine Linkwood
  1. Richard Barr says:

    I’m very pleased that your time at the SMWS in London was so thoroughly enjoyed. I too appreciated the fine single casks that evening. Just FYI, that bottle of 39.99 in my possession will never leave my home alive. You’ll have to carry it’s cold lifeless (& empty) bottle from my home 😉

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