SMWS 51.23 'Continental Drift'


Finally....the first review of 2024. I have been a lot better at consuming whiskey and making notes than I have at actually putting fingertips to keyboard and getting my conclusions into cyberspace. There are a load of partially completed reviews in the draft section of the site and hopefully I'll get those uploaded on a more regular schedule than I have of late.

What exciting stuff will be coming? Well for a curveball there will be a few poitín reviews, there'll be a trio of Ledaig's and Bunnahabhain's, some Caol Ila, Ardnamurchan, different Cadenhead's & SMWS expressions and a raft of new Irish brands such as Stablemate, Outwalker & Element. I'll also be looking back at some drams I've previously reviewed such as Jameson, Green Spot and Redbreast plus more form Killowen, Kilkerran, Hazelburn and Springbank. I'll even be jumping stateside to look at some American single malts, plus bourbons and ryes of all sorts.

On to todays review then. We are back at Bushmills via the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I've had the pleasure to review a good number of these now and you can see my thoughts on those bottles here. This bottle was kindly ordered for me by my good friend @whisky_rover as I am not a member of the SMWS, but I felt that I couldn't ignore a 21 year old, rum finished, cask strength Bushmills for £165. This bottle was also part of a split with the lads in the Causeway Inishowen Whiskey Club. 

So some details about the bottle then. It was distilled on 16th January 2001 and bottled sometime in 2022. Initially matured in an ex-bourbon barrel this was then finished for an unknown length of time in a 1st fill Jamaican ex-rum barrique. Bottled at 53.4% abv this barrel only an outturn of 132 barrels. As previously stated it cost £165. Let's taste.

SMWS 51.23 'Continental Drift' 53.4% abv

Nose: A super nose - welcome to the candy shop! Fruit jellies, candyfloss, candied pineapple cubes, vanilla cream, molasses, honeycomb and some coconut shavings. There's a furniture polish note here too alongside nutmeg and rum toft. Water brings out Parma violets and a bit of pine resin.

Palate: A lovely mouthfeel to this - butterscotch and vanilla cream, flambeed bananas soaked in rum. Poached peach and Turkish delight. Mid palate comes a wave of Kendal mint cake and orange oil. Clove spice plus toasted oak. Water brings out more citrus elements - orange and lemon zest and fresh ginger too.

Nose: Quite long with stewed fruit notes along with a minty freshness and butterscotch sundae.

Score: 8 out of 10

Overall: A top drawer whiskey this one. Great to see what a well aged, cask strength Bushmills can be capable of. The rum cask finish compliments the fruity Bushmills distillate beautifully. The only issue with this bottle is the lack of a replacement. Considering also that the official Bushmills 21 year old is now at ranging from £160 to £207 per bottle depending on your retailer of choice, this proved to be great value too. Well done SMWS.


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