The Vaults in Leith, the SMWS, booze and dinner

On the last day of our Scotland trip in November, we decided to visit The Vaults in Leith. This is the quintessential SMWS venue, and I have been wanting to visit this ever since my first trip to Edinburgh in 2011 or 2012. For various reasons it didn’t work out then, but having an awesome dinner at the venue in Queen Street more than made up for that.

Anyway, dinner was planned by us going for The Society’s Share. Which means a bar meal and a 20cl ‘sample’ of whisky from their special cabinet. It’s interesting that this is still available since they haven’t updated the collection in 2010 or so.

There were five of us, so five whiskies were chosen. The Rosebank fanatic went for a Rosebank. The guy who still goes dreamy eyed by mentioning the Ardbeg Almost There went for a young Ardbeg. Two others went for a virgin oak Glen Moray and a fresh bourbon matured Highland Park. I found a 1984 Clynelish available. I love Clynelish.

The dinner options were plentiful but in the end we all went for a burger, and we started with a meat. cheese and bread platter that we saw on some other tables too. Oh, and a beer of course. One that wasn’t even in Untappd yet which, nerdy as we are, makes it slightly more special.

The starter platters were great, the beer was too. The burgers were awesome with blue cheese and bacon toppings added. I don’t even remember whether or not we went for dessert.

As an added bonus we had some other drams too, and I got to meet Crystal Coverdale, who I know from Facebook and various bottle share initiatives.

I’ll review other the whiskies over the coming couple of days, but let’s start with the Glen Moray.

Glen Moray 1996-2010, 13yo, SMWS (35.35 – Christmas in Morocco)

This whisky was matured in new charred missouri oak, and bottled officially at 57%. Our sample was pulled slightly later and sat at 56.66%, according to the label.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

Lots of oak on the nose, but also a fruit salad. Crusty sponge cake. The nose is huge on this dram. Fresh oak with lots of vanilla. Slightly perfumy and very sweet.

The palate is rather sharp and sweet. There’s pepper and the alcohol is prominent. Oak, roses, perfume. As said very sharp and strong. Sweet too with strawberry and blackberries. Very fruity.

The palate isn’t dry, but it’s very sharp. Sweet with lots of oak and fruit. Long lasting.

Initially I wasn’t sure what to expect, with Virgin Oak whiskies going all kinds of ways. This one worked out fabulously though. It is a sweet whisky, but there’s quite a lot of other flavors going on that make it very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind having a bottle of this. Off to the auction sites!


Glen Moray 1996-2010, 13yo, SMWS (35.35 – Christmas in Morocco). It used to go for just under € 100, but that was six years ago.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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