Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review - Exotic Cargo

Exotic Cargo is a new whisky from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and is the first ever blended malt that they have released. The new whisky continues the expansion of their core range of products which has recently added American whiskey, Cognac, gin and rum to the portfolio. Exotic Cargo has been created using whiskies all distilled on the same day in 2006 and all have been matured in ex-sherry hogshead casks. It has been bottled at 10 years of age and at a strength of 50% ABV. It is also non chill-filtered and of natural colour. There are just 1,937 bottles available and each will cost £45.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, or SMWS for short, was established in 1983 and is a whisky club that bottles whiskies exclusively for its members. Most are single cask single malts  and at natural cask strength. The society bottle roughly 150-200 casks a year and is based in Edinburgh. The SMWS have members rooms in Edinburgh and London and are expanding all the time. Current branches can be also be found dotted around the world including in Asia, Australia, mainland Europe and the USA.

“The Society has always had an unconventional streak and we are really breaking the mould of what can be done with a blended malt. We are sure our members will be as eager as ever to get their hands and palates on the Exotic Cargo.”
Kai Ivalo - Spirits Director at the SMWS.

Exotic Cargo is initially available to SMWS members in the EU and the UK, before being released to international markets including Australia, Canada and the USA in the Autumn.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold with a tint of amber and the nose has a rich mix of dried fruit and sweet aromas. There are plenty of juicy sultanas and raisins, along with some candied oranges and prunes. Caramel and brown sugar aromas are also present, along with some background earthy wood spices and a hint of black treacle.

On the palate this whisky has a soft and almost gentle feel, even at the 50% ABV. It is instantly sugary with a lovely blend of brown sugar, toffee, caramel and golden syrup. There are further notes of white chocolate and milky coffee. These characteristics are backed up by lots of concentrated dried fruit notes - raisins, sultanas, prunes and candied oranges, plus hints of fig and ....  Underneath are plenty of earthy and warming spices - cinnamon, all-spice, white pepper, ginger, ginseng and hints of menthol, eucalyptus and cloves - along with some robust bittersweet cereals.

The finish is slightly short and initially very chocolatey. Then comes the sweet notes and the dried fruit. They all fade quite quickly to leave the earthy, warming spices to linger. This turns it to be more dry than expected.

What's the verdict?
The Exotic Cargo is a nice rich and sweet whisky that is a welcome addition to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's portfolio. It will be interesting to see what direction they take this project in. Blended malts are so hot at the moment that we would be surprised if the SMWS did not extend the range with different styles. This whisky is enjoyable and easy drinking with only the short finish letting it down slightly.