SMWS January 2023 Outturn Review


We're back with the first SMWS outturn review of 2023. It's a little later than usual due to the dates that new year has fallen on, but we hope it'll still help when making any buying decisions.  The outturn booklet features 22 new whiskies, the standard mixture of young-ish bourbon whiskies with a few interesting looking sherry finished drams thrown in. 

Not all bottles were available at the preview tasting, but we’ll attempt to update this article with details of these bottles and any others we missed 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.

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...

7.280 - Longmorn Distillery

Name: Coconut and guava paste popsicle
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 56.6%
Age: 18

Price: £115.00

Strawberries and cream sweeties, creamy white chocolate, party rings, pastries drizzled in sugar glaze. There's a slight herbal note if you breathe in deep, alongside a little rhubarb. The palate is a little watery at first, a bit of ginger spice coming through following into more strawberries and cream. The finish is sadly too short, with sweetened lime cordial and overcooked biscuit. It's delicate, not overly complex or rich and we wanted a bit more from an 18 year old whisky. 

Score: 6.5/10


16.84 - Glenturret Distillery

Name: Linctus-glazed lamb
Flavour Profile:  Peated
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: Refill toasted ex-bourbon hogshead
ABV: 64.3%
Age: 8

Price: £57.00

Pine needles, lime, slightly creamy white chocolate coins. Aloe, sour peat with a bit of rubber. There's a fair whack of alcohol coming through, tar and a little mushy apple. The palate hits the back of the throat straight away, appletiser, a meaty spice, coriander and charred wood on the finish. It's got a strong peat smoke element with some dry roasted peanuts coming through too. Some will love it, we're not the biggest fans.

Score: 6/10


18.50 - Inchgower Distillery

Name: Root beer carnival
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-oloroso hogshead
ABV: 60.5%
Age: 15

Price: £85.50

Candy floss machine, a little savouriness reminding us of HP brown sauce. We're getting dates, prunes, molasses, with a savoury tang at the end. There's some oloroso nuttiness appearing on the nose too. We're also finding it quite musty with punchy alcohol on the nose. The palate starts of really quite sweet, moving into something quite savoury, honey glazed ham, maple bacon and salted caramel. It's a little hot, but overall a good quality dram. We're not huge fans of Spanish oak but this has worked out well.

Score: 7/10


28.97 - Tullibardine Distillery

Name: Cruising in a fruitful landscape
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.8%
Age: 9

Price: £57.00

Fuzzy peaches, slightly tropical, aloe, Turkish delight (mostly the rosewater), typical vanilla/powdered sugar. It's quite light and floral overall. The palate starts with an oily, gritty, engine oil like flavour but quickly morphs into lots of sweet fruits and the rosewater from the Turkish delight coming through from the nose. There's a pepperiness that lingers through to the finish which is a fair bit drier than the palate overall. Not too bad for a young bourbon cask. 

Score: 6/10


36.203 - Benrinnes Distillery

Name: Rummy ginger honey
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-rum barrique
ABV: 56.9%
Age: 13

Price: £75.20

Straight off with the rum funk - galvanised rubber, bitterness, acrid, PVA glue, plastic ... not our favourite type of rum. There's also a herbal/grassy note, alongside a savoury garam masala and nutmeg. The palate is savoury again, bitter wood, maraschino cherries without the sugar, some brown sugar in the background with black pepper heat on the finish. Not our favourite rum finish unfortunately, although some may enjoy. 

Score: 6/10


39.258 - Linkwood Distillery

Name: Lemon and rhubarb delight
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.3%
Age: 10

Price: £64.20

Pineapple, sticky toffee pudding, apple tart, a fair bit of fruit in here. It's like a light fruitcake with cherries and raisins. It's also musky, but impressively balanced at the 62%. The palate has a little tropical fruit but moves quickly into a dry oak. There's some vanilla sponge but it's overtaken by bitterness with a tinge of sour on the finish. The palate started promising but was ruined by the finish. There's better options in this outturn.

Score: 5.5/10


41.157 - Dailuaine Distillery

Name: Pine nut croissants
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-PX butt
ABV: 56.4%
Age: 14

Price: £85.80

Aloe, candle wax, raisins, sultanas, chocolate and hazelnut spread. There's some cherries, gravy granules, gooseberry, mustard seed but has a good balance of sweetness to back these aromas up. The palate has brown sugar, caramel, French pastries, pain au chocolat and a slight herbal flavour too. The finish becomes a touch bitter, but it doesn't ruin the dram. We're quite partial to this, it's a good use of a PX finish.

Score: 7/10


46.142 - Glenlossie Distillery

Name: Mosambi mojito
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.2%
Age: 12

Price: £69.00

Varnish, mint, grassy, fresh parsley. There's a little dustiness going on too. We're getting a little fake lemon, the sort of aroma you'd find in a cleaning spray. There's also a touch of peach and oak. The palate has more of that artificial lemon, but it's very very dry - lots and lots of wood. It's a little unbalanced and not particularly pleasurable. 

Score: 6/10


48.156 - Balmenach Distillery

Name: Mouth-watering melange
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.6%
Age: 9

Price: £49.80

It's... vanilla. They nailed it on the flavour profile. Cream soda, dusty wardrobes with old clothes within. There's a slight tropical note if you go past the musty, dusty notes, then onto rich tea biscuits. Simple, not overly complex. The palate has vanilla custard, perfume, ginger syrup, and a good quality waffle cone/brandy snap on the finish. The alcohol is in good balance considering the punchy ABV. One of the better young bourbons, but avoid adding water - doesn't nose or taste any better. 

Score: 6.5/10


53.449 - Caol Ila Distillery

Name: Smoking a duck up a chimney
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-oloroso hogshead
ABV: 57.6%
Age: 13

Price: £98.40

Cheese and onion crisps, saline solution, iodine, hessian rope, smokey bacon crisps, HP sauce with a touch of malt vinegar. Very very savoury. There's a nice undertone of peatsmoke here. The palate has a surprising sweetness, along with herbal notes of basil with lemon. It's savoury, meaty and peaty. We're finding the mouthfeel a bit thin and watery, cherry and trout, with a reasonable length finish. Water brings out sweetness on the nose. It's nice, but a little bit out of balance and too thin on the palate.

Score: 6.5/10


58.51 - Strathisla Distillery

Name: Birch sap carpenter
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 55.9%
Age: 12

Price: £75.00

Honeycomb - like a crunchie bar. There's a bit more chocolate here, but also more nail varnish. There's marzipan, cardomom, dry biscuit alongside dusty furniture towards the end of the nose. The palate is sweet. It's nice. There's vanilla, sugar, cake, then it moves towards a drier, nuttier biscuit flavour. It's a bit spicy on the finish too. It's not particularly complex, but very sippable. 

Score: 6.5/10


60.31 - Aberfeldy Distillery

Name: Sweetly modern
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.1%
Age: 9

Price: £57.00

Cream soda, menthol, milky bar, a little oily and coastal too. It's got a sweet aroma, but then we're finding vegetable oil. A little weird but let's see what the palate holds. The palate starts with artificial sugars, but moves towards a drier, woodier flavour overall. There's also a floral note, rose-like, moving into a candied orange peel finish. One of the more interesting drams we've had tonight, good price and interesting palate. 

Score: 7/10


66.230 - Ardmore Distillery

Name: Sweet smoked surf n' turf
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.3%
Age: 13

Price: £79.20

Grassy, farmyard funk. There's a bit of salt and BBQ meat coming through, with the slightest hint of ammonia. The palate has more of the charred meat, sugarcane and wood smoke. Applewood chips in a smoker. It's quite a dirty, earthy peat. It's good but we're not finding too much to get excited about. 

Score: 6.5/10


72.113 - Miltonduff Distillery

Name: Frothy, frivolous and fun
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 53.6%
Age: 14

Price: £73.20

Furniture polish, a slight citrus note, candle wax - but mellow like a ripoff yankee candle. Overall quite restrained and boring. A little synthetic sugar and biscuit. The palate has lemon sorbet, grapefruit, mustiness, wet cardboard with white pepper spice on the finish. It's... fine, crazy expensive for what it noses/tastes like though.

Score: 5.5/10


85.75 - Glen Elgin Distillery

Name: For folk who like the Spanish oak
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-oloroso Spanish oak hogshead
ABV: 58.7%
Age: 14

Price: £85.80

It's nutty, dry sherry, cinnamon toast crunch, cloves, cardamom. There's some wood, a touch of dehydrated orange, copper. The palate has some initial spice, ginger, chili moving into a vegetal pepperiness. The remaining palate has burnt sugar, iron, a fair whack of alcohol and a bit of melted dark chocolate. A little too bitter and spicy for us. Not our favourite style of sherry matured whisky. 

Score: 6.5/10


89.17 - Tomintoul Distillery

Name: Menthol agility
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 67.5%
Age: 9

Price: £60.00

Milk bottles, limeade, fresh Tupperware, but overall quite buttery. The aromas are fairly restrained but it has a punch of alcohol and menthol coming though. The palate is spicy and dry - they've nailed it. It's like licking mahogany floorboards ... dry dry wood with not much else. There's a bit of Christmas spice - cinnamon and cloves with black pepper on the finish, but overall it's too alcohol forward and dry.

Score: 5.5/10


93.196 - Glen Scotia Distillery

Name: A salty yoghurt and a silver spoon
Flavour Profile: Oily & Coastal
Region: Campbeltown
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.3%
Age: 8

Price: £62.00

Olive oil, salt, brine, a slight fishiness alongside bright sugar notes. A slight mustiness, toasted sourdough, with good alcohol balance. The palate is incredible sweet, in a good way. Vanilla cake, almond biscuits, coffee revels, salted caramel, and a dry style amontillado sherry on the finish. It's a bit spicier on the palate with ginger biscuits and seawater. The mouthfeel is good but not amazing, it's well balanced but a little simple. For us it's a classic unpeated Glen Scotia.

Score: 8/10


95.79 - Auchroisk Distillery

Name: Cross-cultural
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-PX hogshead
ABV: 55.5%
Age: 14

Price: £80.50

It smells like a malting floor, grain, barley sugars, a little cognac-esque. It's grapey, slightly herbal, a little nutmeg and Doctor Pepper too. We're also finding some cranberry and cinnamon appearing too. The palate is sweet with a touch of sour at the end, but overall it has good balance. We're finding a bit of tannic, woodiness in the background too. There's something that reminds us of dry vermouth. A dram with spice, sweetness, tannins and balance, we'd have another.

Score: 7/10


108.62 - Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery

Name: Afternoon highball
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.2%
Age: 14

Price: £78.00

Ooh, a savouriness, Cornish pastie, orange and cloves, shortbread, really quite interesting. We're also finding battenberg cake and sweetened milky coffee, with really good alcohol balance - it doesn't taste like 60%. The palate has raspberries, lots and lots of them, custard tart made with gingerbread sprinkled with brown sugar and a latte on the side. An interesting dram, we're used to peated 108's but this is quite refreshing in a sea of young bourbon Speysiders.

Score: 6.5/10


142.2 - Breuckelen Distillery

Name: Americana smoothie
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: New York
Cask Type: 1st fill #1 char barrel
ABV: 67.9%
Age: 7

Price: £109.20

Fentimans cola, mentol, sugarcane, cherries in syrup, lime peel, ground coriander and barnyard funk. It's alcohol forward but you're still able to get your nose in the glass. The palate is ... weird. There's an explosion of candied oranges, clove, rosemary, coriander and lime pickle. There's a big hit of spice coming through.. curry forward some may say. It's sweet and vegetal, and quite pleasant in our opinion. One of the more complex drams we've sampled in a while, some will really enjoy but some may find it a bit too weird.

Score: 8/10


G15.26 - Loch Lomond (Rhosdhu) Distillery

Name: A rumour of peetreek
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.0%
Age: 8

Price: £50.50

Lemon, lime and spice. There's a touch of coconut, rose petals, incense, dried flowers, tangerines, overall a really interesting nose. The palate has an orange soda quality to it, a slight effervescence, initial sugars that move into dry, tannic oak. We're not getting a lot of peat, maybe there's a hint of it but it's very light. It's a good dram, slightly too dry on the finish but some interesting aromas and flavours. 

Score: 6.5/10


B7.3 - MGP Distillery

Name: Penne pasta arribiata
Flavour Profile: Bourbon Whiskey
Region: Indiana
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-charred barrel
ABV: 55.7%
Age: 6

Price: £59.50

Menthol forward but restrained overall. There's a bit of ethanol coming through, along with gingerbread, oregano and sugar. The palate has a lot of sweetness, new oak, vanilla, cola cubes and a touch of irn bru. There's a lot of mint coming through with a bit of Aperol in the background. Better on the palate than the nose. 

Score: 6.5/10


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

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