SMWS June 2024 Outturn Review (Part 1)


We're back with the June outturn review. The preview tasting this month featured 34 new bottles, an unexpectedly large number for June - so we're splitting the review in two, you can find Part 2 here.

Not all bottles from the outturn were available at the preview, but 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...

4.355 - Highland Park Distillery

Name: Gorgonzolas burning!
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 63.0%
Age: 13

Price: £75.00

The nose is quite light, with honeycomb, vanilla pod, a little fudge, wax, and very light peat if any at all. There’s a bit of cinder toffee here as well. The palate has a good mouthfeel and opens with butterscotch, lemon juice, warm vanilla custard and a little bit of earth in the background. The bourbon cask finish really shows through here, and is covering up the Highland Park spirit more than we expected. It’s between a 6.5 and a 7.. we’ll air on the side of caution and go with a 6.5/10.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: This is actually a few pounds cheaper than the last 13yo Highland Park released by the SMWS. Nice to see prices going in the right direction.


5.135 - Auchentoshan Distillery

Name: Jammy and Jazzy
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Lowland
Cask Type: 1st fill American oak STR barrique
ABV: 59.9%
Age: 12

Price: £76.00

We’d think this was an actual bourbon on first nosing, we’re getting some menthol, fresh oak, a little bit of funk, brown sugar, pecans, and buttercream. The cask influence has overtaken everything for us. The palate is weirdly thin, and you’re overwhelmed with, ginger spice. There’s also burnt caramel, bitter cocoa, with a faint hint of the Auchentoshan spirit in the background. We don’t think the Auchentoshan spirit took well to the STR cask.. it’s too much.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Not a terrible price for a 14yo, it's just a shame about the whisky.


18.52 - Inchgower Distillery

Name: I challenge thee... to a duel!
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-Oloroso hogshead
ABV: 60.0%
Age: 15

Price: £85.00

This feels as though it's been aged in an very aggressive sherry cask, with a nose full of Bovril gravy and beef drippings, transitioning into burnt coffee, brown sugar, and nutty notes of candied almonds and cashew butter. The palate starts off slightly acidic but evolves into flavours of venison, beef, and balsamic glaze, complemented by strawberry syrup and basil. While there’s some interesting flavours here, it suffers from a mediocre mouthfeel and finish. Overall, not one we gel with.

Score: 6/10

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


19.99 - Glen Garioch Distillery

Name: Party invitation
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 52.4%
Age: 20

Price: £137.50

On the nose, this whisky has an array of tropical fruits including mango, papaya, and foam bananas, alongside French pastries with a custard filling, showing off the classic Glen Garioch profile. The alcohol feels well-balanced. The palate offers a pleasant mouthfeel, with continued tropical notes of pineapple slices and a hint of melon, as well as apple strudel and a bit of candied ginger. The finish is slightly peppery and woody. Overall, this is a good quality Glen Garioch that showcases a great balance between distillery character and cask influence.

Score: 8/10

Value: These Glen Garioch's are too pricey, but given the quality we are tempted to get one.


26.223 - Clynelish Distillery

Name: An apple in a pear tree
Flavour Profile: Young & Spritely
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.7%
Age: 9

Price: £65.50

On the nose, this delivers a punch of vanilla accompanied by green apple, pineapple, lychee, candle wax, spun sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The palate bursts with fruit flavors right from the start, including more apple, limoncello, sherbet, and mandarin, creating a very juicy, sweet, and slightly zingy profile. The alcohol is well-balanced, and the mouthfeel is nice and creamy. This is a great young Clynelish, a touch spicy in places but overall delicious.

Score: 8/10

Value: This is actually pretty good value for an IB Clynelish.


36.217 - Benrinnes Distillery

Name: Heaven and earth
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: Refill bourbon & 1st fill American Oak PX hogsheads
ABV: 59.2%
Age: 17

Price: £97.50

The nose starts with Irn Bru, ginger biscuits, a little alcohol spice, well done caramel, leather, and milk chocolate. Overall, it’s quite a tight nose, with the sherry and bourbon notes feeling a little disjointed to us. On the palate there's zesty citrus, cherryade, cinnamon sticks, and warm caramel. The palate has a good mouthfeel initially, oily to begin with, but thins out as the palate develops. It’s overly spicy on the finish, and feels the little out of balance to us. There’s better sherry cask options this outturn.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Not a bad price given the Sherry and the age.


38.42 - Caperdonich Distillery

Name: Cigars in sweetie jars
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 50.3%
Age: 30

Price: £495.00

On the nose, this dram is very light with notes of fresh linen, watermelon, pear drops, light fudge, caramel, and a hint of red currant, complemented by some sponge cake and simple syrup. The palate continues with more orchard fruit, icing sugar, and candied orange peel. It's sweet and somewhat one-dimensional, but extremely drinkable. Clearly an older whisky, it still has some mouthfeel but is a touch thin in places and the finish is a bit overly oaky.

Score: 7.5/10

Value: Good whisky, terrible price.


53.457 - Caol Ila Distillery

Name: Coal shards on clotted cream
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: 1st fill American oak ex-Oloroso hogshead
ABV: 57.2%
Age: 9

Price: £79.00

We're finding beef monster munch, and gravy granules upfront, it’s very meaty on the nose.. There’s also some smoked fish, but overall less peat than we were expecting. There’s also some burnt ends, it’s very savoury, with coal smoke and some tarry rope. The palate has a nice mouthfeel, more sweetness with clotted cream, cured fish, coal, sour sherry, peanuts and toffee brittle. It’s a passable Caol Ila, but it’s not doing much for us as there’s not enough sherry or peat for our palates. Some will enjoy this more than us, but we’re going with 6.5/10.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Sadly not bad given the distillery and the cask type.


63.50 - Glentauchers Distillery

Name: Summer soiree
Flavour Profile: Spicy & sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 56.0%
Age: 9

Price: £50.00

The dram has a relatively creamy, buttery nose with honeycomb, butter scotch, white chocolate, and digestive biscuit. We’re finding the nose pleasant but overall a little restrained. The palate has more of that butterscotch, toffee crisp bars, lemon peel, spicy ginger beer that takes over and lingers on the decent finish. On top of the overly spice finish we’re also finishing the mouthfeel disappointing. There’s better bourbon casks this month.

Score: 6/10

Value: Another one where the price isn't bad, but the whisky is lacking.


64.150 - Mannochmore Distillery

Name: Al fresco, in the sun
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-PX barrique
ABV: 56.4%
Age: 14

Price: £80.00

The nose is musty and dusty, with subtle hints of sherry lurking in the background, complemented by a noticeable aroma reminiscent of a triple-distilled Lowland spirit. It carries soft, light, and fresh notes, with a touch of floral elements. On the palate, there's a prominence of sweet fruits like peach, nectarine, and lemon curd, alongside boiled sweets, vanilla, and toffee. It's pretty sweet and fairly one-dimensional, which will appeal to some. Not too much sherry influence coming through for us though.

Score: 7/10

Value: Good whisky and not a bad price for a sherried dram.


66.250 - Ardmore Distillery

Name: Beautifully balanced
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: Refill ex-bourbon hogshead
ABV: 55.0%
Age: 25

Price: £245.00

Light on the nose, mellow highland peat, heather, warm caramel, wildflowers, farmyard, a little vanilla, a little oak, not too much but overall quite pleasant. The palate is a touch thin, but it’s got more peat on the palate than the nose. There’s asphalt, tar and sugar paper. There’s a certain acridity to this, but it balances out the more you drink it. You know what.. it’s really similar to a good Highland Park, if that’s your style then you’ll love this. We’d happily have a few drams.

Score: 7/10

Value: Feels like a pretty rough price to be honest.


70.57 - Balblair Distillery

Name: Essence of deliciousness
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 56.8%
Age: 15

Price: £88.00

On the nose we’re met with aromas of apricot, shortbread, lemon curd, guava, it's fairly tropical and sweet, lots of sugar there too. There’s a fermented-ness about this dram which is fairly unique. The palate has a good mouthfeel, mango, papaya, pineapple, very tropical, very sweet, and you could laze on a beach with this happily. The mouthfeel is decent but the finish is a little bit bitter and alcoholic. A decent dram, with a few flaws, we would happily go back for another.

Score: 7/10

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


71.98 - Glenburgie Distillery

Name: Wood-panelled library
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.1%
Age: 12

Price: £61.00

Fairly yeasty and spirit forward on the nose, shortbread, proving bread dough, and a bit too much alcohol too. There’s a slightly citrusy note here, like orange zest, with toasted bread too. The palate has more chocolate and orange appearing, but in an astringent, and acrid way. We’re getting a lot of the spirit character dominating the palate here and we’re not really enjoying it. Much better options this month.

Score: 5/10

Value: Cheap but most definitely not cheerful.


78.72 - Ben Nevis Distillery

Name: Fat haggis
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 2nd fill Spanish Oak sherry hogshead
ABV: 58.7%
Age: 8

Price: £60.00

This is spirit forward, very spirit forward. Sour cherries, meaty, bacon, cow dung, rancio, on the nose. It’s too funky for us. The palate has chocolate and venison, coffee beans and burnt toffee. The mouthfeel is ok, and becomes fairly chocolate forward (the unsweetened type) the more we go back to it. Reasonable finish, but not our thing, some may enjoy it, but for us this needed a few more years in the cask to balance more of the funk.

Score: 6/10

Value: It's starting to feel a little like the better value drams are kinda mediocre.


80.47 - Glen Spey Distillery

Name: Childhood baking memories
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon hogshead
ABV: 56.8%
Age: 11

Price: £55.00

On the nose we’re getting orange zest, carrot juice, ginger, fondant icing, French pastry, buttercream, and something that reminds us of the base of a cheesecake. The palate has more citrus up front, very orangey, moving into ginger snaps and black pepper. The mouthfeel is a bit of a letdown, and the spice overtakes the palate. It’s also a touch one dimensional.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Good price, but the whisky is just average.


112.121 - Loch Lomond (Inchmurrin) Distillery

Name: Warm and toastie
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Highland
Cask Type: New Oak hogshead HTMC
ABV: 53.9%
Age: 16

Price: £95.00

This is a little funky, almost reminding us of a rum cask. Fresh oak, caramel, dusty wardrobes, toasted bread, waffles, wafer cone, play dough. It’s very single-aroma feeling. The palate has a nice texture, more up front fruit, peach, apple and strawberry in pastry, mixed with runny honey, caramel and a bit of ginger spice at the end. It’s a little funky in places, and yeast-forward as we continue to drink. Definitely far from our favourite of the outturn.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Maybe we're imagining it, but isn't Inchmurrin usually cheaper than this?


113.71 - Braeval Distillery

Name: Hothouse reverberation
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.0%
Age: 11

Price: £64.00

On the nose creamy vanilla, marshmallows, white bread, cake, it’s very sweet, and a little biscuity too. Fairly one dimensional but in a pleasant way. The palate has a decent texture, more citrus up front, lemon and orange, with a hint of pineapple too. The finish is a bit short and flat.. it just falls off. There’s a touch of toffee and chocolate but it’s fairly simple. Fine on the nose, bit of a letdown on the palate. Not terrible more just disappointing.

Score: 6/10

Value: Another release that's at a good price.


122.52 - Loch Lomond (Croftengea) Distillery

Name: Green eyed beastie
Flavour Profile: Young & Spritely
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.5%
Age: 8

Price: £57.00

Initially on the nose light vanilla, and icing sugar. We’re finding ourselves reminded of a confectioners shop. There’s also some pear and candy floss. It’s overly sweet for us on the nose, and pretty one dimensional. The palate has a little more fruit up front, apple, and nectarines, moving into richer oak spice.. a little tannic on the finish with some chili heat poking through too. It’s a perfectly fine bourbon cask, nothing special, but a bit spicy for our tastes.

Score: 6/10

Value: Not a terrible price in today's market.


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