Nordic Whisky #19 - Smögen Sherry Project 1:1
Smögen Sherry Project 1:1, 3 YO, 51,8 %
In just three weeks Smögen Whisky will release two new bottlings. Up until now, this young distillery has only released one expression, the Smögen Primör (see review). One of the new bottlings is called Smögen Sherry Project 1:1, a name that does raise a few questions. We therefore sat down (virtually) with Pär Caldenby, the owner and master distiller at Smögen Whisky, to find out more:
The "Smögen Sherry Project", what is the idea behind that?
As we are driven by the love both of whisky and for exploring new variations on known themes, the idea of a number of projects on the influence of Sherry cask maturation came about. Now, the name for the bottling (-s) may not be the most evocative ever, but it is certainly to the point: “Sherry Project”.
And why sherry casks specifically?
Sherry matured malt whisky is – quite rightly – one of the classical expressions any whisky can be presented in and one which is also typically very popular. As the casks tend to be quite active when compared to ex Bourbon casks, not every malt whisky would be suited for the use of fresh Sherry casks. However, our fairly heavy and decidedly peaty whisky can bear just about any cask type you can find, with former Sherry casks being an obvious choice and one which is common in our warehouse, from 30 litres volume (a.k.a. “Bloodtub”) all the way up to 600 litres for the massive “Gorda” casks. Obviously, the projected maturation time will differ wildly between the extremes.
You say "bottlings" plural, so this will be a series?
The “Sherry Project 1:1”, [is] the first installment of four in the initial group of the project. The focus is here on the successive increase in influence from the Sherry casks, with the installments 1-3 being given 4, 8 and 12 months of finishing period in one fresh Sherry butt each.
The fourth installment will be a 4 yo full term maturation in fresh Oloroso Sherry Quarter casks – and this is also the common denominator for all four installments, the maturation in Quarter casks made from European oak. The installments 1-3 matured for 2 years and 10 months in virgin European oak Quarter casks, prior to their aforementioned finishing period, while installment 4 will get the full term maturation in them, although those particular Quarters are fresh Sherry casks to start with.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the first release of the series?
The 1:1 is bottled at 51,8 % ABV, and is peated at 50+ ppm phenols. The total outturn is 932 bottles, and 600 of these bottles will be released for sale through Systembolaget. In our view, the 1:1 is excellent in its very own right, just as the second to fourth installments show excellent promise. But to get the full impact of the Sherry Project 1, all four bottlings should be secured and tasted side by side. It will be an interesting exercise for any whisky enthusiast and one which we can all learn from.
When will the 1:1 be available to buy?
The 1:1 will first be released through the Systembolaget web order only, at 10 a.m. on the 20th of November, 2014.
And the rest of the first series?
The three other installments will likely hit the shelves over the course of 2015, with a three to five month spread.
The whisky was distilled in July 2011, and bottled on September 5, 2014. It was matured in casks 32-34/2011, European oak 100 liter virgin feuillettes, before the finish in the sherry butt. The malt type used is Optic, peated at 50+ ppm phenols.
Nose (22/25): Warm ashes, glowing embers, coal, dark fruits, raisins, baked apples and some citrus notes. Quite rich.
Taste (22/25): Fresh, sweet and peaty. Creamy vanilla, caramel, citrus, pepper flavored dark chocolate.
Finish (21/25): Still creamy and rich. fruity, with a more pronounced oaky presence now. Medium length on the finish, warm.
Balance (22/25): A very nice start to a new series of bottlings from this young distillery on the Swedish west coast. Stay tuned for more!
PS! The bottle image above will show an ABV of 51,7 %. This was a typo on a few early labels only, the correct ABV being 51,8 %.
Sláinte! - Thomas