Smogen Distillery Tasting Notes

Posted: June 12, 2015 in Sweden, World Whiskies & Spirits

Smogen Svensk Primor 2010 (3 year old) 67.3%

Optic Barley peated to 45ppm

Matured in a combination of new European Oak casks and former Bordeaux casks.

Dist: Sept/ Nov 2010 Btl: Nov 2013/ Casks 5 & 14-21/ Tasted: Oct 2014

Smogen Whisky AB was established in 2009 by Par Caldenby, who (in 2006) published ‘Enjoying Malt Whisky’.

The distillery was built on a farm on the West coast of Sweden, North of Gothenburg, it has a 900 Litre wash still, a 600 litre spirit still, and a production capacity of 35000 litres.

The nose is intense and manure with bitter coffee, burnt wood and very dry peat. Quite edgy with a high toned spirit edge. The oak adds a boiled sweet sherry note along with hints of black pepper and olives, plus a late touch of soy sauce. A very unique and unusual nose!

The palate has a lovely intensity but also display a softness of character. The sherry comes through first bringing dried fruit notes, followed by some crisp spirit, followed by burnt wood, manure and dry peat. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to say that it’s extremely alcoholic and along with being pretty bitter on the finish it really brings tears to the eyes! However once everything has stopped watering you realise that some sugar have come out on the after-taste along with alight boiled sweet, rose peat and peat note. Intense is not the word!

A drop of water makes the nose softer and  less visceral. It also makes it a bit more harmonious. A little apricot and toasted nuts can be detected now and the peat and manure sort of gently wafts through the sherry. The palate is softer and gives the sherry a more coffee’d chocolaty sheen, also a little more malty character can be detected.. The manure and peat notes are now quite subtle though. The sugars seemed to have skulked off somewhere and that does make the bitterness on the finish stand out a little more, however it’s still impressively spicy and tongue tingling!

Smogen 4 year old French Quarter Cask 61%

Vatting of 5 casks

Tasted: Apr 2016

Intense aromas of gritty, grainy, toasty, sweet-ish oak with hints of barley, herbs and lightly medicinal peat. Its shows its youth with a hint of feints and boiled sweets, but the balance for such a young spirit is superb. With time hints of coffee, sweet peat, charred wood and bonfire notes.

Like the nose the palate opens with the gritty and grainy oak, followed by slightly oxidised apricot fruit, earthy peat and coffee’d, spicy wood notes. Malty and barley’d on the middle with the fruit sweetness underpinning. Excellent length with lingering burnt wood, dry tannins, earthy peat and smoke. Wonderfully intense with the alcohol well integrated. Unfortunately I didn’t have a big enough sample to try it diluted.

Smogen Wee Swede 2012 (4 year old) 62.5%

Heavily Peated Optic Barley

American Oak Barrel/ Swedish Oak Bloodtub

Cask 17/2012

Dist Mar 2012 Btl: Aug 2016/ Tasted: Sept 2016

For the Wee Swede, Par took one single Bourbon barrel filled in 2012 and let its contents go through two small 30 ltr Bloodtub casks of new Swedish oak. After three instalments of two months each, the whisky was returned to the original barrel for marrying.

The nose opens with some young, oily cereal notes with hints of lime and barley. Once it has settled in the glass and given some aeration it really opens up to show some lovely, sweet barley and hints of Bowmore-esque parma violets. The peat character is actually relatively subtle and adds hints of manure and smoke. I love the combination of dusty American oak and tighter grained European oak, the later adding a touch of burnt spice.

Dry, dusty barley and a little more peat intensity on the palate. That peat character is wonderfully young, smoky and primal. Hints of honey, sweet cereal, barley, gritty oak spices come through but the soft and supple American oak vanillins underpin. Long with lingering salty peat and violet notes.

A drop of water makes the nose heavier and oilier with a chunkier barley character and hints of honey and menthol. There is less peat influence now but the parma violet notes are still noticeable. The palate is a little simpler, which is probably down to the water emphasising the oak vanillins. Still it’s very rounded, spicy and dusty and long.

Smogen Wee Swede 2012 (4 year old) 62.5%

Re-Tasted: Oct 2016

Nose: Dry but phenolic peat, tar and creosote with hints of burnt heather and ginger. Beneath lies some sweet barley and tight European(?) oak notes along with toffee, grainy dried fruit, manure and smoke.

Palate: Dry, dusty peat with a hint of Bowmore-esque violets. Intense and smoky on the middle with tar and creosote. Definitely not one-dimensional as the barley adds sweetness and the oak adds gritty tannins.

Finish: Long, with lingering peat smoke, salt and gentle oak vanillins.

Conclusion: Intense, primal and exceptionally good. Those mad Swedes have come up with a cracker again!

Smogen Triple 2011 (5 year old) 54%

Triple distilled, heavily peated optic malt, aged in 2 ex-Sauternes barriques (5/2011 and 6/2011)

Dist: Mar 2011 Btl; Jan 2017/ Tasted: Mar 2017

Lovely, soft and herbal aromas with plenty of fragrant honey, honeysuckle and thick set honey. Yep, lots of honey! Extremely deep with hints of barley, apricot, earth and coffee’d tannins.

The palate is soft and barley’d and like the nose oozing honeyed character. Lightly grapey with a touch of white chocolate, butter-cream, apricot and slightly perfumed honeysuckle. Lovely intensity with a long, honeyed and barley’d finish. Subtle smoky, coffee after-taste. Considering this was distilled using heavily peated malt, it would appear that the triple distillation has pretty much removed all the peat character.

 


Smogen Single Cask 60.9%

Cask 20/2011

Aged for 3 years and 2 months in Ex-makers Mark cask

Tasted: Feb 2015

Pungent and oily aromas of lightly tarry and manurey peat with a light medicinal/ herbal edge. The spirit itself is quite full and rounded, which is amazing given its age with a touch of toasted oak coming through. Quite primal but controlled.

The palate opens with the soft, toasted oak and herbs but the earthy peat is not far behind! It shows its youth with a little oily spirit note, but it also has some lovely crunchy barley and a light rose petal note. Lightly medicinal on the finish with the peat lingering and a light tarry after-taste. Fantastically clean and given the alcohol is very well integrated.

A drop of water brings out the charred oak and toasted caramel biscuit notes. The peat has become subservient but is still slightly medicinal. The palate is similar to the nose. Maybe there is a little more of the fresh rose petal character but dilution certainly hasn’t impinged upon its complexity.

Smogen Single Cask 3/2010 (5 year old) 61.3%

Fresh Bordeaux Barrique. Peated to 40ppm

Dist: Oct 2010 Btl: Jan 2016/ Tasted: Apr 2016

The nose opens with some relatively subtle peat with hints of sweet barley and redcurrant/ cherry notes along with malt, treacle, tar, manure and wood spice. Intensely alcoholic but it is well integrated. With time it develops a fresher, almost salty edge.

The palate is quite sweet to begin with, showing syrup coated red fruits and hints of straw, barley, earthy peat, malt, liquorice and treacle. The manure peat notes build on the middle along with some coffee notes. Seriously alcoholic finish but the sweetness balances. Lovely, lingering earthy peat, light tar and smoke.

A drop of water brings out a touch of creamy oak and more barley as the red wine character is pushed into the background. The peat has become a little medicinal and some heathery herbal notes and boiled sweet notes are apparent. The palate is softer and rounder with more tar, liquorice and treacle and plenty of pure grainy French oak tannins. Quite a mineral and almost tartly citrus finish with the treacle offsetting. Lovely length with lingering red fruits, citrus and a final dusty/ floral note.

 


Smogen Sherry Project 1.1 51.8%

Aged for 2 year and 10 months in heavily toasted European Oak Quarter casks followed by 4 months finishing in Oloroso Sherry Butts.

Tasted: Feb 2015

The nose is quite toffee’d and herbal with a boiled sweet sherry note. Pungent dried fruit – prune and raisin, burnt wood, earthy peat, dried grass and slightly singed thyme follow. The sherry aromas continue to evolve and become fairly treacly and display a slight dried grapey PX character.

The palate is soft, dense  and treacly with an abundance of rich fruitcake dried fruit and boiled sweets. Earthy-peat comes through on the middle along with some lightly toasty oak and burnt wood. Long with lingering treacle and dried fruit. Quite dry at the death but not bitter.

Water makes the nose fresher and more citric with a slight medicinal note appearing. On the palate it brings out more caramel, tar and molasses notes. Like in the cask strength bottling there is a hint of fresh rose petal and as the sherry has diminished a little it allows the peat to emerge more forcefully in a drier and dustier form.

Smogen Sherry Project 1.2 55.7%

Aged for 2 year and 10 months in heavily toasted European Oak Quarter casks followed by 8 months finishing in Oloroso Sherry Butts.

Tasted: Feb 2015

The nose is softer and sweeter than 1.1 with more herbal Oloroso character. Hints of dried apricot, orange, rose petals and just a light boiled sweet note follow. The sherry doesn’t have the treacly character of 1.1 and allows a touch of perfumed barley to emerge. The peat also feels a little lighter and again more herbal.

The palate is also softer and sweeter than the 1.1 and shows a light syrup coated dried apricot and sultana character. The peat is more noticeable and drier although the herbal notes come through quite strongly on the middle along with hints of dates and walnuts. Quite an alcoholic finish with lingering boiled sweets, dusty smoke and gritty but soft tannins.

With water the nose is toastier with only a subtle boiled sweet sherry note and more noticeable peat. The palate is similar to the nose but not quite as complex now. The oak is bittering a little the peat is wonderfully prominent and dry, however some sugars come through on the finish to offset the dryness and give it a superb balance.

Smogen Sherry Project 1.3 53.7%

Aged for 2 years and 10 months in heavily roasted European Quarter Casks. Finshed for 12 months in Oloroso sherry butt.

Tasted: Sept 2015

Intense aromas of charred oak and very winey, primal sherry. Big chunks of earthy peat, dried apricot orange with a light treacle veneer. Talking of chunks there’s 90% cocoa chocolate, burnt raisins and developing green nuts, herbs and liquorice. An incredibly deep primal soup of a nose!

The palate is thick, winey, grapey with an almost Pedro Ximinez-like sherry character. Intense is not the word! Charred wood, green nuts, tannins and lots of herbal notes assail the palate. Thick slabs of oily peat emerge on the middle. Long, drying and slightly smoky with the peat becoming very sticky and tarry. Wow, that’s a tannic finish, just liking licking the inside of the barrel!

Diluted the nose is still very primal, grapey, winey and treacly – so no change there! The palate has become a little lighter but not by much. Less intense on the peat and it allows a marmalade orange note to come through along with hints of 90% cocoa chocolate. The peat kicks in on the finish with waves of herbal, almost bog myrtle-like notes plus creosote, tar, liquorice and sticky cough syrup. Wow!!!!

Smogen Sherry Project 1.4 57.2%

Aged in sherried European Quarter Casks. Finshed in Oloroso sherry butt.

Tasted: Sept 2015

The nose is softer and smokier than 1.3 with less treacle and more lightly nutty sherried fruit. The peat is quite hidden and displays a more medicinal character. Lightly coastal with a touch of boiled sweets, vanilla custard and some sweeter, more heathery smoke.

The sherry on palate is lighter and feels more manzanilla-like in character with a distinct nuttiness and hints of liquorice, charcoal, very sweet crystallised orange and building, slightly bitter dark chocolaty tannins. Seriously mouth-watering but the subtle honey and treacle balances the alcohol rather well. Very long and smoky with a dusty peat, toasted oak and burnt wood finish.

A drop of water really brings out the toasted oak notes as the sherry takes a bit of a back seat. Now some honey coated barley appears along with hints of earth, manure, tar and sweet, heathery smoke and the peat is a little more prominent too. The palate is crisper and like the nose shows more barley and honey. Again the sherry is quite subtle and the sweet peat, heather, thyme and citrus comes through. Beautiful, dry, nutty finish.

Smogen Sherry Project 1.4 57.2%

Re-Tasted: Apr 2016

Nose: Soft, nutty Oloroso and dense peat smoke. Slightly briny with cinder toffee, treacle and sweet dried fruit. Lightly medicinal with boiled sweets, heather and vanilla custard. Water emphasises the toasty oak and brings out a touch of manure.

Palate: Nutty, almost Manzanilla-like sherry with dark treacle, prune, walnuts, liquorice, charcoal and subtle peat smoke. Dark, bitter chocolate comes through on the middle. Water brings out a hint of barley and honey as the sherry recedes.

Finish: Long and smoky with mouth-coating dusty peat, burnt wood and treacle. Water emphasises the sweeter peat notes and heather.

Conclusion: Charting the evolution of this whisky has been a fascinating experience and if you haven’t experienced it yet, then you should!

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