Whisky Review: 2 Young SMWS ex-Bourbon Barrel Benrinnes

2 min readDec 7, 2020

These are notable exceptions from the recent ex-wine/sherry SMWS finishes in that they are both 100% first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. However, they do have another SMWS-of-late note: they’re quite young.

Benrinnes 2004 SMWS 36.128 / 58.8%

Tasted neat and then with a bit of mineral water

“MOROCCAN AFTERNOON TEA” is a young 12 year first-fill ex-Bourbon barrel Benrinnes from SMWS with a low out-turn of just 132 bottles.

The bottle promises tantalizing “Aromas of freshly brewed mint tea and dark chocolate cake while to taste, pineapple butter cake and marshmallows in a North African spice mix.”

Given the low bottle count, I am not sure what they did with the other half of this cask.

  • Color: deep copper (1.0)
  • Nose: earl grey tea, jasmine, lime; danish butter cookies
  • Taste: fresh cream and pineapple; mango, ash, and cake icing
  • Finish: thick and syrupy, a long aftertaste of honey

With water, the nose doesn’t open up much, but the fruitiness of the flavour comes forward more as you are not being blasted by the higher alcohol level. Quite pleasant! However, the promised chocolate does not materialize in any way.

Rating: 86/100

Benrinnes 2006 SMWS 36.146 / 59.4%

Tasted neat and with a bit of mineral water

“POMELO SEGMENTS AND PINEAPPLE SLICES” promises to be another young, tropical-fruity Benrinnes. Also an ex-bourbon first-fill like 36.128, it was left to age 11 years before yielding 185 bottles.

The SMWS liner notes promise “Barrel aged plum brandy was followed by slightly sour pomelo sweetened and spiced in the finish; while diluted, creamy coconut almond butter”.

  • Color: amontillado sherry (0.9)
  • Nose: white pepper, lemonade; white vinegar
  • Taste: creamsicle, grapefruits, a little chalky
  • Finish: short, lobster butter

Amazing how a year younger and a (likely) less-active can lead to a total difference in the end product. This is okay, but I would not buy it again.

Rating: 78/100




Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade