The SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) is a membership whisky club that operates as an independent bottler. Founded in Edinburgh in 1983, the organisation started purchasing and bottling single casks from various distilleries and making them available to club members. The society has since grown to over 30,000 members worldwide, supplying its members with 6-8 of those iconic green bottles with quirky and clever names to sample and purchase at monthly out-turns. They now purchase casks from approximately 200 different distilleries from around the world and have branched from Scotch to Grain Whisky, Bourbons, Rye, Armagnacs, Cognacs, Gins and Rums. Each bottling is always a single cask, cask strength, non-chill filtered and no colour added. The distilleries are always kept secret and the only hint to the origin of the expression is the distillery code on each bottle. SMWS distillery code 4.242, broken down, indicates that this expression comes from Distillery #4 (Highland Park) and is the 242nd cask.
Highland Park Distillery is located on the northern island of Orkney. Once ruled by the King of Norway, Orkney has a strong Viking heritage which Highland Park has fully embraced. All of their recent releases have had a strong viking theme. Strong winds and storms are very much a way of life on Orkney and because of this, very few trees grow on the island. What does grow in these harsh weather conditions is Scottish heather. Highland Park distillery sources some of their peat, for drying the malt, locally and is mainly comprised of this heather which gives the spirit a slightly floral, heather smokiness.
SMWS 4.242 Coastal Landscape with Smoke, Highland Park 13-year-old is a single cask whisky which produced 262 bottles. This cask was bottled at a cask strength of 58% ABV and was distilled on January 17th, 2005 and put into an ex-bourbon refill hogshead. Here’s my take!
Nose: Vanilla, heathery peat smoke, smoldering sandalwood.
Palate: More floral peat smoke, ash, toasted marshmallows, burnt toffee, coffee and dark smoky chocolate.
Finish: Long and lingering smoke, burnt caramel, burnt match heads. Dries on the finish causing the mouth to water and crave another sip!
This particular expression is probably quite difficult to locate but I highly recommend taking any opportunity that presents itself to try a single cask, cask strength Highland Park whisky. Slainte!