SMWS 29.249 Sweet black tea in the surgery

Laphroaig 21 Years Old 1996 29.249 Sweet black tea in the surgery ( 48.6%, SMWS, Refill PX HH, 230 Bottles, 2018)

  • Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Laphroaig distillery
  • Bottling: SMWS, Cask #29.249
  • ABV: 48.6%
  • Cost: £sold out


What they say

AGE 21 Years
DATE DISTILLED 26th November 1996
CASK TYPE Second Fill Ex-Pedro Ximenez Hogshead
OUTTURN 1 of 230 bottles
ABV 48.6%

Official tasting notes:

A pleasingly medicinal blast of aromas with carbolic soap and iodine develops into black tea, herbs (rosemary) and green tomato. There’s a winey note emerging too. To taste it’s rich, medicinal, sweet and earthy. Sauna wood, leather, sweet strong black tea, dried mixed fruits, salted black liquorice and charred wood. Add water and it becomes more winey, gentler and sweeter. Aromas are balanced with rich honey, liquorice, plums and then leather, charcoal and samphire. Satisfyingly sweet and smoky to taste – hot smoked salmon with herbs, carbolic and ash – and a wonderful lingering finish. It spent 19 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

What I say

Sampled as part of the #SMWSat35 virtual tasting led by Master Brand Ambassador John McCheyne from The Vaults venue in Leith.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Old Bordeaux (14/20),
  • Nose: Mocha coffee and chocolate, coal-tar soap and iodine, black cherries, coal dust, toffee, honey and malt
  • Taste: Toffee, butterscotch, hazelnut and cinnamon latte or hot chocolate, herbal sgae, thyme, rosemary, woody and a little spiced, plus charcoal dust a little bbq sauce and spice and touch of meat,
  • Finish: Long, bbq sauce, smoke.


OK so it is a finished whisky and my conscience still tells me that doesn’t sit right with the old ‘Product of a single cask’ statement the bottles used to carry. Finishing is not only here to stay within SMWS, but has apparently been around since 1991 according to John. So here’s to there being a little more explicit information or openness around finished casks. It only occurred to me after the tasting, but I wonder if finished casks have previously failed the tasting panel so badly they get sent for finishing? Whatever the history of this cask, it is undeniably tasty and drinkable now – in case a 21 year old PX sherry finished Islay malt hadn’t piqued your curiosity…

Score 89/100

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Categories: Islay, Laphroaig

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