The Malmaison on Swinegate on the other hand makes a good venue for a Whisky Tasting. An SMWS Preview tasting no less.As usual a good selection of cask strength whiskies - this time from Arran (121.58 - 10yo); Craigellachie (44.57 - 22yo); Macallan (44.124 - 23yo); Springbank (27.101 - 16yo); Caol Ila (53.179 - 20yo). All good whiskies, but to me nothing that stood out like last month's Cameronbridge, Highland Park or Mortlach.
The pick of the bunch was the Springbank - a very smoky Springbank at that, but more balanced than the Caol Ila that needed a little water to tame it. It is numbered as a Springbank rather than a Longrow, but wasn't far short of the latter's peatiness. The Macallan's tasting notes said that "sherry influence dominated, almost overpowered the nose" and it is named "Close to the edge of extreme" - this made some of us a little wary before tasting it, fearing a sulphury whisky, but despite all that there was no sulphur, and it was almost a great dram. The Craigellachie was interesting rather than outstanding, and certainly merits another taste, but the Arran while perfectly drinkable, was a little disappointing after the previous outstanding SMWS Arrans.
OK so I've looked into the origins of Malmaison - the mal is ill-fated rather than bad - the hotel chain is named after the Château de Malmaison, a residence of Napoléon and Joséphine - itself named for a former royal residence destroyed by the Vikings in 846.