SMWS July 2023 Outturn Review


We're back with the July outturn review. The preview tasting this month featured 25 new bottles.

Not all the bottles releasing in July were available at the preview, and there were a few that we assume will be released later in the month. We’ll attempt to update this article with details of bottles 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.

If you noticed that black label releases are no longer just bottles over £150 and were wondering why we were able to get an explanation. Going forward the black label releases will be any bottles 18 years and older. 

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 those who haven't read some more of our recent reviews... we've had multiple requests to rate whiskies purely on quality and to ignore price. The ever-increasing price of scotch has finally pushed us to bite the bullet and do it. That's not to say we're ignoring price completely... we'll be adding a comment to every review discussing if we consider it value for money, but our scale will now 100% only consider quality. Anyway, without further ado, our new scale is as follows:

  • 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...

4.369 - Highland Park Distillery

Name: Thrilling and Exuberant
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 63.1%
Age: 13

Price: £82.00

Honey nut cheerios, vanilla pod, double cream, buttermilk with a reasonable backbone of peat. There’s also a touch of earthy rosemary here too. The palate has.. peat, honey, bourbon sweetness, it’s a little simple, although inoffensive. There’s some vanilla custard and fresh pastry notes too. It’s weirdly pleasant even if really boring.

Score: 6/10

Value: It feels a touch too pricey to us. 


6.65 - Macduff Distillery

Name: Confusion Now Hath Made His Masterpiece!
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: Refill px hogshead
ABV: 56.7%
Age: 16

Price: £106.90

Raw pastry dough, almonds, caster sugar, raspberry jam and blueberries. It’s quite restrained, and we’re not getting a lot of sherry at all, mind you it is a finish in refill sherry. The palate has a decent texture, with marzipan, sponge cake, vanilla creams and a touch of lime. It’s really flat on the palate and the finish disappears within seconds. We hoped for more, and this is a bit of a letdown.

Score: 5/10

Value: It's a bit pricey


16.77 - Glenturret Distillery

Name: Salted Caramel Axle Grease
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: Re-charred refill hogshead
ABV: 64.2%
Age: 9

Price: £54.00

Smoked cod, nail varnish remover, picked herring, potato salad, fishing creels and burnt sugar. The palate has creme brûlée, liquorice, spiced onions and dark rum. It has a decent mouthfeel and reasonable finish, with good alcohol integration for a whopping 64%. Another brick in the.. we mean another solid 16

Score: 6/10

Value: For the abv alone, this is good value. One to drink in the park.


16.90 - Glenturret Distillery

Name: Tramp's Cigar Butt Burns Toffee Factory
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: Re-charred refill hogshead
ABV: 63.7%
Age: 9

Price: £60.00

Initially we’re getting smoked crème brulée, burnt marshmallows, salty sea air, burnt caramel and dark soy. The palate has lots of dark sweetness, brown sugar, HP sauce, Worcester sauce, peanut brittle, a little bit too much alcohol on the finish though. The better of the two 16s in our opinion, but there’s not too much in it.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: We’re not sure why it’s 6 quid more expensive than the other 16, but it’s still a reasonable price. 


28.93 - Tullibardine Distillery

Name: Waxy Pick 'n' Mix
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.4%
Age: 10

Price: £57.00

Fudge, candle wax, barley sugars, peach, dried banana chips and a hint of caramel too. It’s pretty sweet on the nose overall, but has a bit of peppery spice coming through. The palate has orange juice, toffee, overcooked biscuit and a whack of alcohol. It’s got a relatively strong yeasty note in the background too. The mouthfeel is fine and the finish is a medium length with ginger spice and dark chocolate. It’s fine for a spicy & dry dram, better on the nose than the palate. 

Score: 5/10

ValueReasonable price for what it is.


35.344 - Glen Moray Distillery

Name: A Plum Floating in Perfume
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.7%
Age: 10

Price: £57.00

Initially on the nose we’re finding it’s very perfumey, we also get the plums from the name. A bit of upside down cake and white wine spritzer. It’s a touch to alcoholic up front. The palate has blackcurrants, toasted brioche, bitter melon and a hint of cinnamon bark. It’s a powerful palate but doesn’t really show any flavours we enjoy.

Score: 5/10

Value: Reasonable priced for what it is. 


44.164 - Craigellachie Distillery

Name: Honey, Ham & Lamb
Flavour Profile: Deep Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill American Oak px hogshead
ABV: 62.9%
Age: 16

Price: £98.30

Lime, pork ribs, dark chocolate, ketchup, brown sugar, honey glazed ham and ginger. The palate has sultanas, chocolate buttons, menthol, with a relatively sweet yet bitter finish. There’s a nice viscous mouthfeel but it’s a pretty damn hot for a 16yo, too much chili heat. The palate also disappears quicker than we’d like, but the finish does retain a chocolate orange type of flavour. As many of you probably know, we don’t love Craigellachie but this is a decent example and the sherry had covered a lot of the spirit’s sins.

Score: 6/10

Value: Pretty rough in our opinion, should be closer to 80 quid.


46.147 - Glenlossie Distillery

Name: Hubble, Bubble, Orange Oil and Trouble
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill American oak px hogshead
ABV: 55.6%
Age: 12

Price: £75.90

Mint, heavy bourbon notes, brown sugar, toffee nut syrup, clove and set honey. We wouldn’t guessed it was ex-PX from the nose. The palate has butterscotch, caramel, and hints of red fruits, but they’re quite far in the background. The mouthfeel is nice and it’s quite well balanced for the alcohol. There’s a bit of flat cola on the finish alongside mint chocolate chips. Not bad, not a sherry bomb though for anyone who’s looking for that. 

Score: 6/10

Value: Reasonable value for a sherry finished 12yo. 


53.439 - Caol Ila Distillery

Name: Saline Smoky Samphire
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: Refill bourbon hogshead
ABV: 60.1%
Age: 10

Price: £75.00

Roasted peanuts, hazelnuts, kippers, seaweed, saline solution, with very light bourbon sweetness in the background and a good whack of peat too. The palate has a lovely creamy texture, with a continuation of those salt roasted peanuts, lemon juice, whole meal toast and bonfire peat smoke. It’s got good alcohol integration and a nice mouthfeel too. This is about as classic of a Caol Ila as you can get. Not much else to say. 

Score: 7/10

Value: A little rough, maybe it would be worth it after some time sherry but we’d expect this for £60/£65.


55.76- Royal Brackla Distillery

Name: Petals in an Orange Bitters Cocktail
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak oloroso hogshead
ABV: 56.2%
Age: 15

Price: £125.00

Strawberry, raspberry, molasses, brown sugar, shortbread biscuits, orange blossom. Well balanced alcohol on the nose, it’s quite pleasant. The palate opens with Terrys chocolate orange, bitter melon, candied hazelnuts, cinnamon and grapefruit. It’s just all a bit too dry and bitter for us, although we can appreciate some of the sherry aromas and flavours.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Is this mispriced?


58.55 - Straithisla Distillery

Name: Madeira's Sweet Salvo
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity and Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 57.1%
Age: 11

Price: £68.40

Gummy bears, apples, a hint of fresh raspberries, icing sugar, it’s overall quite restrained but has a bit of an alcohol hit if you breathe in too hard. The palate has some red fruits initially, blackcurrant and strawberry, moving into orange peel and a bit of bitter grapefruit on the finish. The mouthfeel is a touch thin in places, and the finish lasts a decent length with almond, simple syrup and a little toffee too. It’s not bad for what it is, we wouldn’t turn it down.

Score: 6/10

ValueIt’s a touch pricey for an 11yo bourbon cask in our opinion. 


59.72 - Teaninich Distillery

Name: Baked Orange Rosemary
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak oloroso hogshead
ABV: 56.2%
Age: 12

Price: £75.90

On the nose we’re getting a bit of chili heat right off the bat, sour cola bottles, green pepper, pink peppercorns, some herbal aromas and raspberry purée. The palate has hazelnuts, cinnamon bark, cherries in syrup, spiced hot chocolate and clove. Both the mouthfeel and finish are fine, but it’s too spicy and overall a little simple.

Score: 6/10

Value: Not too bad for a 12 year sherry finish.


63.115 - Glentauchers Distillery

Name: Could Attract a Hummingbird
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 56.0%
Age: 20

Price: £112.00

Light aromas of candy floss, lemon drizzle cake, peach, white sugar cubes, with a hint of something floral and some strawberry bon bons to boot. The palate has quite intense flavours of the aforementioned sweet and fruity notes, but with a fair bit of alcohol too. The palate drops off relatively quickly, leaving mostly drying oak and pepper dusted grapefruit. We expected a bit more considering the quality of some of the 19yo sweet, fruity and mellow 63’s we’ve had from the SMWS.

Score: 6/10

ValueGreat value for a 20yo malt whisky. 


66.243 - Ardmore Distillery

Name: Direct Action
Flavour Profile: Old & Dignified
Region: Highland
Cask Type: Refill bourbon hogshead
ABV: 54.5%
Age: 25

Price: £195.50

Light wisps of highland peat, cut grass, hay, farmyard funk, with a backbone of bourbon sweetness, candy cane, honey nut cheerios and soot. The palate has a nice “old whisky” beginning, light oak, light peat, light vanilla.. light everything. Well balanced alcohol, dry earth, chocolate, walnuts, a little boring in places but still enjoyable as an easy sipper.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Not really great value to be honest, even at 25yo.  


72.119 - Miltonduff Distillery

Name: Salted Pretzel Blancmange
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 56.6%
Age: 12

Price: £69.00

Paint stripper, plasticine, apple cider vinegar, Gaia melon, white pepper and oats. It’s not the most inviting nose. The palate is slightly better though, there’s a good amount of sweetness with a touch of mango and pineapple, a hint of salted caramel and stale croissants. It’s a touch spicy on the finish, a bit of chili heat. It’s a little simple, nose isn’t great but the palate pulls it back somewhat. 

Score: 5.5/10

Value: It’s fine for what it is.


82.45 - Glencadam Distillery

Name: Caribbean Confectioner  
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak and Vanilla
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 2nd fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.7%
Age: 10

Price: £61.20

There’s hints of tropical fruit salad far in the background, it’s very reserved on the nose. There’s a touch of rosewater, it’s a bit perfumery and overpowering. The palate has much more going on, lots of sweetness, candied orange, icing sugar, sweetened cream, with a touch too much ginger spice coming through on the medium length finish… in fact we’re basically left with only spice on the finish. A restrained nose with a better palate but very disappointing overall. 

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Again, fine for what it is. 


85.85 - Glen Elgin Distillery

Name: Those Aren't Regulation Tyres
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill oloroso hogshead
ABV: 58.9%
Age: 13

Price: £80.50

Sawdust, strawberry, raspberry, rancio, handbag leather, red kola, you can get quite deep into the glass without issue, the alcohol is well balanced. The palate has almonds, vanilla icing, orange rind, Fentimans cola and chili heat. It’s a bit hot on the palate, with cinnamon and cloves on the finish. It’s like a cinnamon latte with a bit too much syrup. 

Score: 5.5/10

Value: It’s a reasonable price for a sherry finish.


93.195 - Glen Scotia Distillery

Name: Surf, Sea and Shore
Flavour Profile: Oily & Costal
Region: Campbeltown
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.4%
Age: 8

Price: £59.15

Seaweed, lime juice, salt water, fudge, cold sea air, lemon tarts, a good sweetness but perhaps a bit spicy on the nose. The palate has a good mouthfeel, with icing sugar, lemon curd, saltwater, ginger ale and fondant icing. It’s not particularly oily and coastal, more of a slightly salty, lovely Glen Scotia bourbon cask. Our biggest issue is that it’s too alcoholic, and could have benefitted with a few more years in the cask.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Good value for a Scotia of this age.


94.31 - Fettercairn Distillery

Name: Ice Cream by Candlelight
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill px ex-bodega barrique
ABV: 54.0%
Age: 13

Price: £79.90

Malty, chocolate coated pretzels, a bit spicy on the nose initially, digestive biscuits, rye bread, not overly sweet but not overly bitter either. The palate has a chocolately, hazelnut thing going on.. Ferrero Rocher, lime cordial, cinnamon churros, with a good mouthfeel and decent length finish. Water brings out much more brown sugar sweetness on the palate, along with candied almonds. As with last month, this has really surprised us. Great whisky, you wouldn’t regret picking one up.

Score: 8/10

Value: Not too bad, we’re sure those ex-bodega casks aren’t cheap. 


95.85 - Auchroisk Distillery

Name: A Comforting Shaft of Sunlight
Flavour Profile: 2nd fill bourbon barrel
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: Spicy & Sweet
ABV: 62.8%
Age: 12

Price: £69.00

Cream filled doughnut, turpentine, vanilla essence, elderflower and zesty lemon. It’s a very simple nose. The palate has a decent texture, lemon posset, fudge sundae, a little dry oak too. It’s just a bit boring, the palate has a great texture but that’s really all this dram has going for it. Another disappointment.

Score: 5/10

Value: It’s creeping up for a 12yo in bourbon. 


122.54 - Croftengea Distillery

Name: Fruit Herein
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.0%
Age: 8

Price: £57.00

Basil. Lots and lots of fresh basil dusted in sugar, anchovies?, whole meal toast, a little bit of parmesan, what a weird and interesting nose. The palate has more savoury notes, spinach and ricotta stuffed pastry, with lemon peel, orange zest and .. more sweet herbs. We’re not sure, it’s not bad whisky but we don’t really think we’d want to drink it. Someone will rate it higher than the 5 we’re giving it.

Score: 5/10

Value: It’s in line with other bottlers prices. 


128.31 - Penderyn Distillery

Name: Cava and Raspberry Liqueur Jelly
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Wales
Cask Type: 1st fill carcavelos barrique
ABV: 60.2%
Age: 6

Price: £73.00

Cream soda, Armagnac, with quite punchy, peppery alcohol. There’s also grapefruit and bergamot. There’s some raspberries hiding in there too. The palate has a nice viscous texture with cachaca, grape must, plum and red chili peppers. It’s spicy, there’s a lot of alcohol behind this. We added a touch of water and we’re still getting loads of Armagnac notes, blackcurrant cordial, dark chocolate and oak tannins. We are big Penderyn fans, but this is not what we would consider a traditional Penderyn. Someone will really enjoy this, for us it’s a 6/10

Score: 6/10

Value: Reasonable for Penderyn, pricey for a 6yo. 


138.22 - Nantou Distillery

Name: Tamarind Chutney on Poppadom and Honey Cake
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Taiwan
Cask Type: 1st fill barrel (#3 char level)
ABV: 58.1%
Age: 5

Price: £86.50

Charred wood, a little meaty, chili-honey, and a bourbon-ness appearing too. There’s also some ginger purée and orange marmalade. The palate has… too much alcohol. There’s crème patisserie, Irn-bru, cola cubes and brown sugar with a bit of Jamaican ginger cake coming through on the black pepper-led finish. We don’t tend to gravitate towards Nantou, this is fine but just a bit too alcoholic for us. 

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Pricey for a 5yo, but you’re paying for the angel share. 


G9.6 - Loch Lomond Distillery

Name: No Humdrum Conundrum
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 2nd fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.3%
Age: 22

Price: £95.00

Lovely vanilla sweetness, icing sugar, fresh lemon, white chocolate, typical grain notes with maybe a touch too much alcohol on the nose. The palate has more of the sugary sweetness, lots of white chocolate again, caramel, with a nice mouthfeel and a bit of white pepper on the finish. If this had another 10 years in the cask we think it would be spectacular. Solid grain whisky, would love to sit longer and maybe add a drop of water or two.

Score: 7/10

Value: While this is still good value if you like your grain whiskies Thompson Bros offer much better value.


G15.32 - Loch Lomond Distillery

Name: Peat Tea
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated 
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 2nd fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.7%
Age: 6

Price: £50.50

The nose has roasted peanuts, sawdust, melon, picked walnuts, mellow smoke but really just a bit meh. The palate has caramel, marzipan, salted cashews, brown sugar and toffee with some of that earthy peat in the background. What ever happened to the lovely unpeated, coconut-forward g15’s of the past? Not for us.

Score: 5/10

Value: it seems a bit pricey for “grain” whisky at 6yo.


GN1.8 - Glasgow Distillery

Name: Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Flavour Profile: Other Spirit
Region: Glasgow
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 48.9%
Age: n/a

Price: £52.00

Very limey, creamy, chives, coriander leaf. A vibrant and interesting nose for a gin. The palate has more of the herbal, lime notes coming through, relatively well balanced alcohol, a touch of whipped cream too. We’re not gin connoisseurs so we’ll stop here, but we wouldn’t turn this down.

Score: 7/10

Value: £50 is a lot for even a cask strength, cask matured gin


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