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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Knockdhu 30 year old 1990 SMWS 115.17

This weekend I matched up a youthful, punchy 10 year old Cadenhead Knockdhu, with a 30 year old from SMWS. The SMWS refill bourbon barrel had enough liquid to fill 161 bottles, but with only 43.2 points of alcohol left. Did some liquored-up angels feast on this cask, stealing the poison and leaving the water behind? Or did some fight remain in the barrel?

Distillery: Knockdhu
Owner: Inver House Distillers (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Region: Far East Speyside
Bottler: SMWS
Age: 30 years (15 Feb 1990 - 2020)
Maturation: refill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 115.17, "Flower meadows and lemon groves"
Outturn: 161 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 43.2%
(from a bottle split)


Lemons, lemongrass, dried leaves, earth, kiwi candy, and dried rose petals arrive first in the gentle nose. Clementines appear at the 30-minute mark, as do hints of ocean and Sugar Daddy candy. At 45 minutes, it's all apple blossoms and fresh apricots.

The palate is so delicate. White cake with lemon zest and roses. Chocolate donuts and orange peel. Toasty oak, toasty bread, and sweet cherries.

Lots of oranges and Ovaltine in the finish, with some mineral and sweeter notes in the background.


With such a vivid nose, the whisky surprised me with a palate so fragile that I didn't want to disturb the glass too much. Very pretty stuff, and thankfully not too oaky, this Knockdhu might have been glorious had it been bottled 5-10 years earlier, but I won't carp too much as it's easy drinkin'. Also, kudos to SMWS for a cask name that actually works.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86