SMWS April 2023 Outturn Review


We're back with the April outturn review. The preview tasting this month featured 21 new bottles. A few interesting looking drams, including an oloroso-finished Jamaican rum... funky. 

Not all the bottles releasing in April were available at the preview. We’ll attempt to update this article with details of new bottles that release throughout the month. Check out our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to get an updates on the missing bottles and heads up on our other reviews.

As usual we’re giving every bottle a score. The score will be based on our initial impressions, and for full disclosure, we won’t be spending the time we usually would with a dram that we’d do a full review for, but we’re hoping you’ll find the scores useful.

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.
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Onto the bottles...

4.352 - Highland Park Distillery

Name: Kirkwall cèilidh cratur
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.4%
Age: 13

Price: £76.90

On the nose mellow earthy peat gives way to honey, haybales, fresh cut grass, and a fair bit of alcohol that singes the nose hairs. There’s some barley sugar and chimney smoke coming through too. The palate is creamy, with vanilla, melon, and sweet smoke that moves into honey and high percentage cocoa. It’s quintessential HP, we don’t love it but some will.

Score: 6.5/10


5.115 - Auchentoshan Distillery

Name: Cocoa and kiwi
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Lowland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 57.2%
Age: 19

Price: £125.00

We're getting golden syrup, synthetic sugar, along with a dustiness that overwhelms the nose. There’s some green grapes and freshly cut grass too. A little weirder than expected. The palate has a nice mouthfeel up front, moving into ginger snaps, chocolate digestives, pear drops and dry, tannic oak on the latter palate. The finish is a bit of a letdown, although sweetness does reappear after a while. We’ve had better examples of Auchentoshan.

Score: 6/10


10.243 - Bunnahabhain Distillery

Name: A smoking green fairy
Flavour Profile: Heavily Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: Refill ex-bourbon hogshead
ABV: 59.8%
Age: 9

Price: £72.00

On the nose there’s peanuts, milky bar, aslightly fishiness, with a fair whack of alcohol that had us guessing 60+% ABV. The palate begins with salted peanuts, arabica coffee, vegetal peat and a pleasant vanilla frosting sweetness that sits above these heavier, richer flavours. Good mouthfeel, good balance of alcohol, sweetness and peat so we’ve got to go with 8/10.

Score: 8/10


18.49 - Inchgower Distillery

Name: Oiling the cogs of the orange crusher
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-Spanish oak oloroso hogshead
ABV: 60.3%
Age: 15

Price: £85.80

On the nose we're finding ginger, chocolate, raspberries, treacle, zesty mandarin and freshly grated nutmeg. The sherry finish is quite apparent upfront. There’s also a sweet/sour ketchup sort of thing going on. The palate has caramel shortcake, irn bru, ginger, cloves, and sultanas moving into a spice-led medium length finish. The mouthfeel is good, but overall it’s a touch too spicy for us. 6.5/10 or 7/10 if you like your sherried drams.

Score: 6.5/10


35.342 - Glen Moray Distillery

Name: Sapid synthesis of sweetness and spice
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.3%
Age: 10

Price: £64.20

On the nose there’s apple pie, a hint of cinnamon, shortcrust pastry, vanilla essence and gaia melon. The palate is… spicier than expected, but has a good amount of bourbon sweetness, caramel, fudge, vanilla ice cream and black peppercorns. Lots of milk chocolate on the medium length finish. It’s got a good mouthfeel. A decent if unexciting dram.

Score: 6.5/10


39.278 - Linkwood Distillery

Name: Plums in the spice cupboard
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.6%
Age: 11

Price: £68.40

Pain au chocolate, strawberry jam, French pastries, apple turnover, synthetic sugar, currants. A vibrant, fruity nose. The palate has plums, ginger spice, very sweet with strawberries drizzled in sugar syrup, a touch of orange juice and more of those red berries moving into the finish. Water brings out more creaminess on the nose, and mellows some of the spice on the palate at the expense of some of the fruitiness. It’s a touch too spicy at points, and the mouthfeel is slightly lacking, but this is a really good quality Linkwood.

Score: 7.5/10


53.453 - Caol Ila Distillery

Name: Rocking the gravy boat
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bodega oloroso butt
ABV: 57.5%
Age: 9

Price: £79.20

Meaty smoke, BBQ pork, maldon salt, caramelised brown sugar, a little sea spray and classic Islay peat. The palate comes in big and bold with walnuts, dark chocolate and salted caramel, with some brown sugar and cinnamon spice appearing as the dram develops. The mouthfeel is nice, not overly oily but it has enough texture, and the finish stays for a while with more of the classic coastal salt and Caol Ila fishiness. You’d probably be better off looking for a full maturation sherried Caol Ila for this price, but it’s still a nice dram.

Score: 7/10


55.77 - Royal Brackla Distillery

Name: A party in a wine cellar
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-Spanish oak oloroso hogshead
ABV: 55.1%
Age: 15

Price: £89.50

It’s spicy, oh so spicy, ginger, cloves, slightly herbal, with a little brown sugar and a little mushroom too. The palate has a nice texture, syrupy, with cinnamon, ginger and hot chocolate. There’s a fair whack of spice, although there’s a pleasant dried fruit sweetness that lingers on the medium length finish. Too spicy on the nose, but the palate brings it back.

Score: 7/10


64.139 - Mannochmore Distillery

Name: The devil drinks oloroso
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-Spanish oak oloroso hogshead
ABV: 55.6%
Age: 16

Price: £96.80

Chocolate digestives, cinnamon, ginger, a little caramel, tobacco and raisin bread. It’s a drier style of sherry maturation, and the palate kicks off with a big hit of spice. It then moves into caramel, milk chocolate and fudge brownies. The finish is a touch drier, and ends a bit too quickly. The spirit feels a little disjointed with the sherry cask, but there’s a nice sweet caramel note initially which keeps us interested.

Score: 6.5/10


73.155 - Aultmore Distillery

Name: Pleasure in the plaza
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.1%
Age: 11

Price: £68.40

Pear skin, boiled sweets, red apple, a little oak spice and sweet shortbread on the nose. The palate brings a good amount of caster sugar, dark chocolate, dry oak and lemon custard. The alcohol feels relatively well balanced up front, but we get a bit of ethanol burn on the medium length finish. The mouthfeel is pretty good though. It’s a bit too dry in parts, but the mouthfeel is the triumph on this. Another unexciting bottle.

Score: 6.5/10


93.188 - Glen Scotia Distillery

Name: The antidote to boring
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Campbeltown
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.6%
Age: 10

Price: £69.50

Deep, ashy peat smoke, burnt toffee, a slight chlorine aroma, rubber, plasticine and hints of mandarin zest as you get deep into the glass. The palate has an initial sweetness, salted caramel, charred staves, roasted peanuts and autumn leaves lingering on the dry, but good length finish. The mouthfeel is good though. Unfortunately it’s one of the less impressive Glen Scotia’s we’ve had from the society recently, however it’s still a good dram so we’ll go with 7.5/10.

Score: 7.5/10


95.82 - Auchroisk Distillery

Name: Old-school classics
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 64.6%
Age: 12

Price: £69.00

It’s musty, with a little warehouse funk, and also quite biscuity.. we’re getting dry crackers, sawdust, and a hint of lemon. Overall the nose is quite restrained. The palate has heaps of dry ginger spice, bitter oak, spent coffee grounds, barley sugars and a little too much alcohol bite for the age. The cask hasn’t really done enough here, it tastes younger than it is. We’re really not fans.

Score: 5.5/10


100.40 - Strathmill Distillery

Name: Well red
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-shiraz barrique
ABV: 61.3%
Age: 10

Price: £62.00

What a colour! Cherry compote, red grapes during the fermentation process, dirty, earthy, it’s almost smoky but in a charred wood rather than peat way. The palate is.. tannic. Dry oak, red berries, earthy and herbal with black pepper, it’s high strength vegetal red wine. Maybe Shiraz isn’t the best wine for ageing whisky? Who knows. For us it’s a pass.

Score: 6/10


112.113 - Inchmurrin (Loch Lomond) Distillery

Name: Perfumatory glory
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 63.4%
Age: 8

Price: £49.80

They were on the money when they mentioned perfumed in the name and we’re getting lavender, along with a nice creaminess, white pepper, and dry oak spice. The palate has spice.. it’s very spice forward initially, followed by pencil shavings, lime zest, freshly grated ginger, a little appletiser and a weird oatiness we don’t find often. It’s a little simple, and not particularly exciting.

Score: 6/10


113.68 - Braeval (Braes of Glenlivet) Distillery

Name: Minty malt and mango
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.2%
Age: 11

Price: £63.60

On the nose we're finding apple crumble, shaved oak, and quite a lot of spice stopping us from getting too deep into the glass. There’s also melon and a little bit of lime with some water added. The palate is.. chocolately, milky bar, hazelnuts, and a hint of caramel. It’s got a dry finish with cardboard and a hint of liquorice. Uninspiring, although better on the palate than the nose.

Score: 6/10


122.55 - Croftengea (Loch Lomond) Distillery

Name: Tiptoe to the tropics
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.1%
Age: 8

Price: £57.00

Candy floss, strawberry and cream boiled sweets, tangerine, sponge cake, yoghurt, and sweet red apple. The palate has chocolate coated strawberries, ginger spice, stale sponge cake, a little ground almond and cocoa beans as it moves into a spice-led, medium length finish. It had promise on the nose but failed to deliver in the palate.

Score: 6.5/10


128.30 - Penderyn Distillery

Name: Smooth and suave
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Wales
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-muscat of Setubal barrique
ABV: 63.1%
Age: 6

Price: £73.00

Peppery upfront, green mango, blackberry, a bit of nail varnish remover and a hint of cream soda in the background. It’s quite obviously young, and we’re getting some youthful spirit notes coming through strong. The palate explodes with tropical fruits and something that reminds us of ribena, before moving into ginger spice and creamy vanilla. The mouthfeel is fine, but the main flavours on the palate dissipate a little too soon for us. Water brings out more spice, not ideal. It’s a good dram, that’s better on the palate than the nose.

Score: 7/10


137.19 - St. George’s (The English Whisky Co.) Distillery

Name: Dark, sweet smoke and spicy oak
Flavour Profile: Heavily Peated
Region: England
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 65.9%
Age: 10

Price: £84.00

It’s.. uninspiring. Light peat smoke, dusty wardrobes, forest floor, peppercorns, but overall quite restrained on the nose. The palate brings more out, lemon peel, vanilla sponge, icing sugar, fudge, lots and lots of pleasant bourbon flavours intertwined with early, vegetal peat. A super active 2nd barrel. It’s better on the palate than the nose, but we’re not in love. 6, maybe a 6.5/10.

Score: 6/10


A9.1 - ??? Distillery

Name: Muscovado meringue
Flavour Profile: Other Spirit
Region: Bas Armagnac - Baco
Cask Type: Refill Gascon black oak
ABV: 51.9%
Age: 16

Price: £105.00

It’s very floral on the nose. There’s sweet wine, blackberries, grape must, and aniseed. You can get the youth in the spirit, it’s fiesty. The palate is… much more subtle than expected.. it’s mellow yet fruity, red grapes, apple, cinnamon, cherryade. The palate it lovely, but we wonder if it was watered down a touch? The mouthfeel is good, and the finish lingers for a reasonable length. There’s a touch of bitter chocolate coming through on the latter palate. A bit too pricey, but lovely.

Score: 7.5/10


G15.8 - Loch Lomond (Rhosdhu) Distillery]

Name: A campfire cookout
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: Refill HTMC ex-peaty hogshead
ABV: 58.2%
Age: 12

Price: £56.50

It’s dusty, with lime pickle, and charred wood. The smoke is there but weirdly disjointed from the spirit. It’s a little too sour for us, lots of fresh lemon and limes charring on a campfire. The palate brings more fresh citrus, mixed with creamy vanilla custard, burnt hazelnuts and the smouldering remnants of a campfire in the forest. It’s got a good mouthfeel but the finish disappears too quickly, and overall it’s a disjointed dram.

Score: 6/10


R11.16 - Worthy Park Distillery

Name: Caused a rumpus
Flavour Profile: Other Spirit
Region: Jamaica
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-oloroso hogshead
ABV: 66.2%
Age: 7

Price: £82.00

Ginger, chocolate, cinnamon, funky tropical fermented fruits, warm spice and pepper. The palate comes through with iron, sweet vermouth, warm chocolate cake, Frosties cereal.. we thought we were going to hate this but actually it’s quite pleasant. Has Oloroso maturation fixed Jamaican rum for us? Maybe. Either way it’s a bit pricey for a 7yo so we’ll go with 7/10.

Score: 7/10


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