SMWS April 2024 Outturn Review

We're back with the April outturn review. The preview tasting this month featured 14 new bottles. On paper it's definitely a slow month, but that's to be expected in the lead up to the festival releases in May. There's also a spread of Society spirits which is nice to see.

As usual check out our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to get an updates on any missing bottles and heads up on our other reviews.

The scores below are based on our initial impressions. For full disclosure, we won't spend as much time with a dram as we usually do for a full review, but we hope you'll find the scores useful.

  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.
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Onto the bottles...

35.387 - Glen Moray Distillery

Name: Molecular gastronomy
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-PX hogshead
ABV: 55.4%
Age: 32

Price: £450.00

The nose has a sour cherry sort of thing to begin, then it quickly moves into classic PX, syrupy dates, raisins and heaps of dried fruits. The sherry influence is very apparent, cherry cola and red currants too. There’s a reasonable alcohol balance here. The palate is weirdly thin.. when people say a whisky is “smooth”, this would be a good example. We’re getting chocolate coated raisins, macadamia nuts, cherries in syrup and mejool dates. The finish is basically non-existent, which is a massive shame, it’s just falls off a cliff. Going back and we’re reminded of triple-concentrate vimto. Super fruity, well balanced, slightly too drinkable for a bottle of that price.

Score: 7/10

Value: It's about a £100 more than it should be priced at. We don't see this one flying off the shelves.

36.201 - Benrinnes Distillery

Name: Glazed with marmalade
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-Oloroso hogshead
ABV: 59.7%
Age: 16

Price: £92.00

The nose opens with meaty funky sherry, serrano ham, rancio, cola-tainted-aluminium, sizzle steaks, with some hints of almond marzipan and raisin in the background. There’s a butteriness here too, some vanilla and creme caramel coming though for us. The palate has more an a sweeter sherry flavour, cherries, raisins and strawberries. There’s a fair bit of alcohol here too though, cinnamon and chili spice, maybe even chilli jam, sitting alongside those fruits. The mouthfeel has a nice texture and the finish lingers for a decent while. It’s a decent sherry finished dram, more on the meatier side with some fresher fruits to compliment it. Some will probably enjoy this more than us.

Score: 6/10

Value: Not a bad price given the cask finish and the age.

39.168 - Linkwood Distillery

Name: All's well that ends well
Flavour Profile: Young & spritely
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.3%
Age: 8

Price: £50.00

The nose opens with green apple, boiled sweeties, alongside some artificial banana essence.. actually it’s quite reminiscent of a drumstick lolly. We’re also finding the classic grassiness from Linkwood, dry wheat after harvest season, maybe even a bit of wet dog. The palate begins with sour apple candies, it’s very apple forward.. alongside some sugar syrup and undercooked croissant dough. It’s fairly alcoholic, but there’s a bit more sweet and sour to balance this. The finish is a bit short, a mixture of bitter oak and more apple. It’s fine, we’d finish the dram but we wouldn’t rush back for another.

Score: 6/10

Value: Nice to see more bottles being released at the £50 mark.

41.170 - Dailuaine Distillery

Name: Pure exuberance
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-Oloroso hogshead
ABV: 58.2%
Age: 17

Price: £100.00

The nose opens with toffee, dates, raspberry and light peach. There’s also a bit of mustiness, red apple and nutmeg. It’s a lot of sherry and very little else. We’re finding a touch of artificial strawberry too. The palate is also very sherry forward, cherries, strawberries, raspberry, but lighter and a little more in balance. It’s simple, fruity sherry, with good alcohol integration. Its not the most complex dram in the world, but not every whisky needs to be. This scratches an itch for those looking for a Sherry forward dram. We bought a bottle.

Score: 7.5/10

Value: Price isn't terrible given the age and cask type.

66.245 - Ardmore Distillery

Name: F1 racetrack barbecue
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-Oloroso hogshead
ABV: 58.3%
Age: 15

Price: £98.00

The nose opens with smoky bacon crisps, maple syrup, maple cured ham.. it’s all along a single line here. The peat is mellow, slightly vegetal, like vegetable crisps, maybe a bit of burnt tarmac too. The palate has more of that meatiness, cured pork products, ginger juice, red kola, mellow highland peat and a bit of peppery spice. It’s well balanced, does what it says on the tin, a good sherried, peated dram.

Score: 7.5/10

Value: We'd have liked to have seen this a few pounds cheaper.

68.121 - Blair Athol Distillery

Name: Sunseeker
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-Bodega PX barrique
ABV: 59.3%
Age: 15

Price: £95.00

The nose has a real foosty, farmyardy funk to it, alongside nail varnish and something slightly vegetal. It’s eye wateringly alcoholic too. There’s a bit of mouldy banana bread too. The palate has some upfront fruitiness, sweetness, but quickly devolves into rubber, vegetation and apple cider vinegar. There’s a real overripe fruit quality, it’s a bit weird. It’s also too alcoholic, and overall quite unpleasant.

Score: 5/10

Value: £95 feels a little rough for a 15yo Blair Athol.

80.48 - Glen Spey Distillery

Name: Doors to manual and cross check
Flavour Profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon hogshead
ABV: 57.9%
Age: 11

Price: £60.00

The nose opens with caramelised pineapple, mocha, freshly sawn wood, pear drops and a lot of white pepper. There’s a fair bit of alcohol, nail varnish/paint stripper like aromas coming out. The palate begins with lime zest, sugar syrup, more white pepper.. it’s got quite a harsh alcohol bite, leaving an aggressive burn in our chests. There’s also some apples and pears, relatively light, and there’s a bit of salt appearing too. Time and air brings out some vanilla custard and a hint of kiwi. The mouthfeel is a bit of a letdown, although the finish has a good length, but isn’t particularly pleasant. Uninspiring, not one we will be returning to any time soon.

Score: 5/10

Value: Not a bad price. It's just a shame about the whisky

95.95 - Auchroisk Distillery

Name: Peppery, zingy and cooling
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill oloroso hogshead
ABV: 60.5%
Age: 10

Price: £70.00

The nose is quite meaty, black pepper crusted steak, a little bit of barbecue smoke, similar to burnt wood, an oily grill too. There’s a bit of fruit after, raspberry purée and some cherries too. It’s alcohol forward, living up to the 60% ABV. The palate opens with sweet red berries, moving into freshly cracked black pepper, and a lot of it, sweet chili sauce, leather handbags and toasted wood. The mouthfeel is fine, the finish lingers for a reasonable length but mostly burnt sugar and black pepper. It’s a simple dram and we’re not overly impressed by it.

Score: 6/10

Value: There was a 10yo Auchroisk released a few months back for £62.

137.18 - St. George’s Distillery

Name: Slicing and dicing
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: England
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 67.3%
Age: 9

Price: £84.00

The nose is fairly dusty, alongside caramel, orange peel and toffee bon bons. There’s a hint of dried rose petal, stem ginger and the malty, sweet-but-savoury Hovis cracker. It’s tough to get past the punchy alcohol. The palate opens with bitter caramel, cinnamon, rakia (homemade brandy from the Baltic’s), freeze dried cherry and raspberry ripple ice cream. After swallowing, we’re met with a harsh burning sensation in our chests. It’s insanely alcoholic. The finish is fine, it’s got a decent length with menthol and cherries. It’s firewater… there’s flavour and aroma behind it but it’s just too strong.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: You can get better value releases from this distillery from other IBs.

A4.8 - Domaine d’Espérance

Name: Classie cherry clafoutis
Flavour Profile: SCS - other spirit
Region: Bas Armagnac - Baco
Cask Type: Refill Gascon black oak
ABV: 50.2%
Age: 17

Price: £80.00

The nose opens with fruit salad chewits, freshly squeezed citrus, dried grapefruit, apple chips, but overall it’s quite a restrained nose. There’s a good balance of alcohol here too. There’s some black cherry and vanilla, alongside a bit of cream cheese. The palate opens with lots of icing sugar, a fruit salad bowl, grapes, cherries, blackcurrants.. the list goes on and on. A little thin on the mouthfeel and not overly complex, but it’s really enjoyable and a bit dangerous.. you could drink through a bottle in a night if you’re not careful.

Score: 7/10

Value: Not a bad price given the age.

B4.11 - FEW Spirits Distillery

Name: Like a grown-up in a candy store
Flavour Profile: SCS - other spirit
Region: Chicago
Cask Type: New oak barrel #3 char
ABV: 61.1%
Age: 4

Price: £75.00

The nose has a well-fired wood quality to it, alongside dusty alcohol, neutral grain spirit, a little smokey.. lapsang suchong tea. Maybe some burnt rubber/plastic too? The palate opens with a combination of menthol and caster sugar, industrial fumes, fired oak, burnt plastic, a lot of alcohol too. It’s a little unpleasant, not the sweet bourbon flavours we’re looking for.

Score: 4.5/10

Value: Not a bad price for this distillery.

G15.19 - Loch Lomond (Rhosdhu) Distillery

Name: Sweet shop on the beach
Flavour Profile: Young & Spritely
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 63.2%
Age: 8

Price: £50.00

The nose is incredibly dusty, it’s like you’ve ran you hand over the top of an old set of shelves. There’s heaps of orange here, juice, pith and zest. We’re also getting wood lacquer, casis and a touch of vanilla too. The alcohol is very present on the nose, singeing our nose hairs. The palate has a nice texture with lots of spice and lots of orange, potpourri, and it’s reminding us a bit of Fireball cinnamon whiskey. The finish lingers with a chili burn and angostura bitters (like if an old fashioned cocktail had too much bitters added). We’d have named this “dusty, spicy oranges”, no sweet shop in sight.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Not our favourite whisky, but we're happy to see this at the £50 price point.

GN1.15 - Glasgow Distillery

Name: A soothing sorbet
Flavour Profile: SCS - other spirit
Region: Glasgow
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-tennessee whisky barrel
ABV: 48.6%
Age: 1

Price: £58.00

Floral alcohol. Juniper.. so much juniper. Beeswax, lime zest, a hint of salt, really quite pleasant. The palate is again mostly juniper, slightly herbal, less sweet than expected but there’s a bit of honeysuckle there. It’s good, we’d have liked to see more of the Tenessee whisky influence but it’s very drinkable.

Score: 7/10

Value: It's nice gin, but its very hard to recommend picking this up at this price.

R2.18 - Demerara Distillers

Name: Sticky spice cake
Flavour Profile: SCS - other spirit
Region: Guyana
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 58.7%
Age: 18

Price: £85.00

The nose is very sweet up front, honey, melon, pear drops, starchy potato, a little bit of pickle brine too. There’s also something a little industrial here, alongside some ginger cake. The palate has some up front alcohol, lemon balm, caster sugar, something slightly waxy too. It’s spicy, ginger and chili, a bit of apple and cinnamon too. It’s a good example of a Guyanese rum without too much of the industrial funk we usually get.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Not bad for an 18yo cask strength rum.

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