Tasting note: Arran 2000 SMWS 121.101 (17-year-old, "Honey & vanilla roasted rhubarb")

Arran 2000 SMWS 121.101 Honey & vanilla roasted rhubarbColor: Amber

Nose: Makes a pretty sweet entrance with vanilla, honey and bananas leading the way. This is accompanied by a slight spiciness and sourness that's well-described by the "rhubarb" reference in the whisky's name. Water adds ginger into the mix. The banana is more prominent now.

Taste: Bitter-sweet grapefruits and sour rhubarb, not much else so far to be honest. Let's add water... There's a bit of vanilla, caramel and dry oak now. Still mostly bitter and sour though.

Finish: Medium in length, dominated by bitter citrus fruits... bitter lemon?

Comments: Slightly off-balance whisky from the "Spicy & dry" category at SMWS. Certainly not a bad whisky, although it could have benefited from sweeter notes as a counterweight to its sharpness on the palate.

Rating: I rated this whisky 81 out of 100.
(Nose 21, Taste 21, Finish 20, Balance 19)

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Tasting note: Cragganmore 2004 SMWS 37.90 (12-year-old, "The path less trodden")

Cragganmore 2004 SMWS 37.90 "The path less trodden"Color: Chestnutoloroso sherry

Nose: Spices, cinnamon and glue. Behind that, vanilla. I didn't notice any change after adding water.

Taste: Spicy chilli and curry come first for me, followed by sweet oak notes and orange peel. No considerable change in taste with water, but the mouth feel gets thicker, stickier.

Finish: Long with orange peel, spices and caramelised sugar.

Comments: Okay-ish dram that doesn't quite fit into SMWS's category of "Deep, rich & dried fruits", in my humble opinion. More like "Spicy & sweet".

Rating: I rated this whisky 80 out of 100.
(Nose 20, Taste 21, Finish 20, Balance 19)

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Tasting note: Longmorn 1992 SMWS 7.180 (25-year-old, "Untold stories")

Color: Amber

Nose: Started off with biting aromas so I gave it a good 20 minutes to breath. Upon coming back to it, it was a lot calmer but still relatively spicy with chilli and cinnamon. Hints of fresh fruits, green apples. There is vanilla too, but it remains in the background. Water brings the vanilla out more strongly. There is more sweetness alongside the tamed spices now, reminiscent of gingerbread. After another ten minutes, it got rounder still, with more wooden aromas, hints of tobacco and sweet honey melon.

Taste: First sip and I like it better on the palate already, although the mouth feel is thin. There is lots of wood, some vanilla. Spices come through still, especially pepper and chilli. The addition of water cannot quite make those spices disappear, but they're brought down somewhat. It's fruitier now and slightly creamy... dark chocolate with cherry and pepper.

Finish: Long with wood, tobacco and bitter dark chocolate.

Comments: Complex Speyside whisky from the "Old & dignified" category at SMWS. It benefits from both water and time. In fact, it changes quite a bit every ten minutes or so. If it wasn't for the spices that are a bit too dominant for my taste, this could have been a superb dram in my book.

Rating: I rated this whisky 85 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 22, Finish 21, Balance 20)

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Tasting note: Highland Park 2002 SMWS 4.235 (14-year-old, "Beach bonfire embers")

Highland Park 2002 SMWS 4.235 Beach bonfire embersColor: White wine

Nose: Lemon slices with a very light touch of smoke. Above that lingers a floral note with vanilla and a salty breeze you might associate with an autumn walk on the beach.

Taste: Salty liquorice with soft smoke. Thin mouth feel. Water improves the balance by introducing green tea, but the peat remains subdued.

Finish: Getting dry quickly. You get more peat now, but it's still only "lightly peated" as suggested by the categorization over at SMWS.

Comments: Solid whisky that does nothing wrong but doesn't really stand out either. Don't overthink it, enjoy it at the beach.

Rating: I rated this whisky 82 out of 100.
(Nose 21, Taste 21, Finish 20, Balance 20)

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Tasting note: Dalmore 2008 SMWS 13.49 (9-year-old, "Apple olive oil cake")

Dalmore 2008 SMWS 13.49 Apple olive oil cakeColor: Pale gold

Nose: Apple juice and raspberries with a touch of caramel.

Taste: Apple tart with plenty of cinnamon. Relatively spicy, perhaps coming from the 60.3% alcohol content. You can really tell this is a young cask strength whisky. There are hints of caramel and honey, but they're overshadowed by the cinnamon spiciness. Water brings the spiciness down a notch without revealing any additional flavours.

Finish: Medium in length with stale apples and damp oak.

Comments: Average outing from the "Spicy & Sweet" category at SMWS. It's okay really, just not memorable at all and somewhat unfinished.

Rating: I rated this whisky 77 out of 100.
(Nose 20, Taste 19, Finish 19, Balance 19)

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