SMWS April 2022 Outturn Review

We're back with April's SMWS outturn review. The preview tasting featured 16 new bottlings, but we're sure there'll be more to come out as the month progresses.

Overall we were quite surprised at the variety of cask types that were on offer this month. We've been bombarded by young refill bourbon bottlings over the past few months, but as we looked through the list for the first time, we were eagerly waiting for our chance to try through the new range. 

Annoyingly not every bottle was available at the preview, but we’ll attempt to post details of the missing bottles over the next few days. Check out our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to get an updates on the missing bottles and heads up on our other reviews.

Our previous approach of giving every bottle a score proved popular so we’re going to do it again this month. The score will be based on our initial impressions, and full disclosure, we won’t be spending the time we usually would with a dram we’d do a full review for, but we’re hoping scores will be a little more helpful.

For reference, our scale is...

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

Onto the bottles...

3.339 - Bowmore Distillery

SMWS 3.339

Dusty, burnt hairs, maybe even bleach? There’s hospital aromas that dominate here, with rubber gloves and bandaids. There’s a touch of white vinegar here and swimming pool chlorine. The palate has peat and powdered sugar mixed together. It’s much more balanced than the nose. There’s a nice mouthfeel, a reasonable spice from the alcohol but the finish is a little short. This is a middle of the table Bowmore for us, not our favourite nose, but the palate isn’t too bad.

Score: 6.5/10

24.166 - Macallan Distillery

SMWS 24.166

Is this a mislabelled sherry cask? Ah, it was one of the vatted Macallans that have been put into bourbon after sherry.. interesting. Off the initial sniff we thought it was a Spanish oak sherry butt. It’s very savoury, meaty and funky. We’re getting ginger nut biscuits, Szechuan peppercorns and sour plums. The palate is very warming at first, and the liquid coats the mouth very well. We’re getting a lot of sweetness, but a lot of chili heat and ethanol, maybe even a little rubber. You can really taste the 63% ABV. Water seems to improve the palate a little, more soft fruits as well as cocoa nibs and some oiliness too. Salted crackers, slightly maritime and a little weird all around. Probably the least Macallan-tasting Macallan we’ve tried.

Score: 6/10

28.73 - Tullibardine Distillery

Name: Porridge of Dreams
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill Bourbon Barrel
ABV: 61%
Age: 9

Price: £52.00

Initially we’re getting a floral note, some candy floss, and synthetic sugar. There’s also a mustiness, old wood and toasted cereal.. maybe honey Cheerios. It’s weird, as we sniff it we’re drawing the air right out of our lungs, there’s a menthol note like vapour rub. The palate is a little disappointing, it’s got a more leathery, old books, dry wood, old library/reading room thing going on. We’re not getting too much sweetness here, maybe some dates, but the alcohol is reasonably well balanced with the spirit. It noses promisingly, and a lot older than it is, but the palate lets it down for us.

Score: 6/10

30.121 - Glenrothes Distillery

SMWS 30.121

Cadbury’s fudge and coffee revels. Sticky toffee pudding, luscious and rich. Delicious nose. The palate follows on with the rich raisin, honeycomb, brown sugar, treacle.. we could keep listing typical sherry notes but we think you get the idea. Now onto the alcohol - 67%.. it’s too hot, but surprisingly drinkable. With water we’re getting more of a toasted merengue, banoffee, a little salted caramel but overall lighter and fruitier. The palate with water is great - getting a ripe banana fruitiness, maybe brûlée’d with white sugar. The finish has a decent length, and overall it’s a solid dram at a great price. It’s maybe slightly too hot even with water but we’d give it an 8/10.

Score: 8/10

35.311 - Glen Moray Distillery

SMWS 35.311

Menthol on the nose, a little rubber too - like fresh tyres or chunky elastic bands. Sawdust, malt vinegar, and then some red fruits, berries, and a little earth. The palate is spicy - Asian spices like cumin on poppadums, mango, and pineapple. There’s a graininess, like gram flour sort of thing. A very Indian inspired whisky, but a bit too drying for us.

Score: 6.5/10

41.146 - Dailuaine Distillery

SMWS 41.146

Sweet and sour from the Chinese takeaway, pineapple, vinegar, and ketchup. It’s a little woody and musty on the nose. The palate gives us more pineapple, oak, and tangfastic Haribo. There’s also a meatiness there that we imagine is coming from the oloroso, that’s well balance by the sweetness, but all this just dissipates really quickly. With or without water it’s a little thin, there’s no mid palate and the finish is basically non existent. We don’t hate it, but we’re just left wanting more as it had so much promise.

Score: 6.5/10

53.403 - Caol Ila Distillery

SMWS 53.403

It smells like a Caol Ila. Salty sea air with maritime fishy ness, cheese and onion crisps, cod liver oil, light coal smoke. The palate has a nice minerality, white sugar sweetness, smoked haddock, light peat smoke and good alcohol integration. The mouthfeel is nice and the finish is good length with a nice sweet/peat combo. A good Caol Ila, just like every month.

Score: 7/10

68.75 - Blair Athol Distillery

SMWS 68.75

Old & Dignified at 15 years old… and we can sort of see where they’re coming from. There’s a green-ness on the nose, like going into a hothouse in the botanical gardens and getting all of the aromas of the rainforest, the plants, earth and wood. It does smell old.. it’s got the musty wood, aged leather, old books, green tea, but a nice balanced bourbon cask sweetness that we get from a lot of older Speyside drams. The palate mirrors the nose incredibly well, fresh apple, green mango, leafy and fresh. Herbal, tea like, hay and spritzy. The alcohol is so well integrated, it’s very impressive. We’d go out on a limb and say you could easily confuse this with a 25yo whisky. One thing we will mention is that we don’t get any of the charred red wine character we expected. This is the perfect aperitif dram for us.

Score: 8.5/10

80.37 - Glen Spey Distillery

Name: Afternoon Tea Tot
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Bourbon Hogshead
ABV: 59.9%
Age: 9

Price: £48.40

Lemon merengue pie, but more of the biscuit side of things. We’re also getting some cherry bakewell, icing sugar, ginger snaps, and vanilla essence. It’s very sweet but really nice on the nose. The palate has even more of that biscuit flavour, jammy dodgers with lots of that artificial strawberry jam. It’s quite alcohol forward, both on the palate and as it goes down. Going back we’re getting more tart fruits, raspberry and some pear drops on the finish. The finish is quite long but does end a little bitter. Adding water changes the nose, making it mustier, like a damp shed, with a loss of the fruit. The alcohol is better balanced here but a lot of the goodness we had before has disappeared. It’s a little young and fiery but one of the better Glen Spey releases we’ve tried from SMWS recently.

Score: 6.5/10

100.33 - Strathmill Distillery

Name: Chamoy From Mexico
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill Charred Red Wine Barrique
ABV: 59.8%
Age: 14

Price: £63.90

Tannic red fruits, earthiness, and cranberry juice. This is weirdly smokey, like toasted cereals and twigs. It’s a touch acrid, maybe red berries gone too far, like an old fruit tea infusion. There’s also a butteriness there in the background. The palate is somewhat consistent with the nose, more of these red fruits, cheap chocolate, and a sort of milk/creaminess on the palate. There’s a lot of flavour here, black cherries, raisins and a little fresh paint. Good alcohol, good spirit, good cask.

Score: 7.5/10

113.60 - Braeval (Braes of Glenlivet) Distillery

Name: Sweet Petrichor
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Bourbon Barrel
ABV: 60.6%
Age: 10

Price: £51.00

We’re immediately reminded of a Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand. It’s zesty, it’s mineraly, it’s slightly sour and grassy. There is a musty, sandiness that overlies the nose. It’s a bit chemically. The palate gives us lemon and simple syrup, dry oak.. infact incredibly drying.. we’re trying to chew through the wood. There’s some biscuit here, undercooked tart dough filled with fake peach jam. It’s not bad but this outturn has much better to offer.

Score: 6/10

128.18 - Penderyn Distillery

Name: Dragon's Lipstick
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Wales
Cask Type: 1st fill Ruby Port Barrique
ABV: 59.0%
Age: 8

Price: £82.00

The typical cream soda note we get from Penderyn, backed up by heaps and heaps of red fruits, cherries, blackberries, strawberries and lots of artificially sugar. There’s a slight grassy note here, a perfumed linen softener, and some fresh lemon. The palate has more of that perfume, but with lovely vanilla cake sweetness. We’re getting white chocolate buttons, fondant icing, a light caramel and dried cranberries. We’re not getting too much of the red fruits on the palate, and it’s a touch too warming, but this is still pretty great in our opinion.

Score: 7.5/10

134.13 - Paul John Distillery

SMWS 134.13

This is.. not ideal. Pickled walnuts, super sour apple, astringent white wine, hay. We disagree on this one, some of us hate it, some of us don’t mind it. The palate has a little marzipan, more walnuts, maple glazed peanuts, sour grapes, like painting woodwork. The alcohol is reasonably well integrated and the palate overall is alright, but Paul John has never been our favourite distillery. It’s interesting, it has flavour merit, but it’s too expensive. We’re split on the score but we’ll go with 6/10.

Score: 6/10

G15.15 - Loch Lomond (Rhosdhu) Distillery

SMWS G15.15

Creamy peat. Impressively smooth on the nose, dusty warehouse, dry wood, menthol, vanilla ice-cream, a little blackcurrant cordial. The peat on the palate is nutty, earthy and slightly salty, balanced nicely. There’s a medicinal note here, bandaids, rubber gloves. It’s good but we can’t help thinking that the peat is masking what makes the Loch Lomond spirit special, we’ve lost the coconut and vanilla sponge cake that we got from other casks of this spirit. A nice lightly peated dram that’s pleasant and not offensive.

Score: 7/10

R8.9 - Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua (Flor de Caña) Distillery

Name: Beef Twerky
Flavour Profile: Other Spirit
Region: Nicaragua
Cask Type: 2nd fill Bourbon Barrel
ABV: 67.4%
Age: 15

Price: £75.00

Sweetened ginger ale, red grapes, herbal brown sugar, raw cane sugar and marzipan. Incredibly sweet, almost cloyingly, but we can’t help smile at how pleasant it is. Warm and inviting. If you’ve not tried any society rums this would be a good place to start. This is an easy 8/10 for us.

Score: 8/10

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you thought of the outturn in the comments below.

Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.

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1 comment

  • Sandy

    Thanks for the reviews – very helpful ahead of logging on and seeing what I can get tomorrow

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