SMWS March 2023 Outturn Review


We're back with the March outturn review. The preview tasting this month featured 17 new bottles. March is usually a better month for society releases but we think this month didn’t buck that trend. Disappointingly, prices this month seem to be on the rise.

Not all the bottles releasing in March were available at the preview. There’s a few other interesting bottles coming, but we’re not giving spoilers as we promised you all a heavily sherried Highland Park last month that never materialised. 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...

1.281 - Glenfarclas Distillery

Name: Endlessly revealing
Flavour Profile: Lightly peated
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-Islay bourbon barrel
ABV: 63.9%
Age: 10

Price: £65.00

Pickle brine, seaweed, black liquorice, pepper, maybe the lightest hint of fishiness on the nose. The palate is… sharp, really really sharp. Like a bad sambuca, raw alcohol, aniseed, i'm sorry but we think this might be undrinkable. There might be some sugar syrup in the background if you hold it on your tongue. It’s kind of terrible, and honestly we might be rating it too highly when we say 4/10.

Score: 4/10


13.105 - Dalmore Distillery

Name: Cosecha compote
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-Cosecha wine barrique
ABV: 57.7%
Age: 9

Price: £69.40

It’s got a bit of a burnt aroma going on.. tannic, well-fired sourdough, grated ginger, dark highland toffee, treacle. It’s really quite rich but we can’t say we’re fans of it. The palate is quite vegetal and bitter, red grapes, spent coffee grounds, and burnt chestnuts.. we’ll be honest, this is a little unpleasant and really not for us (or anyone we like).

Score: 5.5/10


18.53 - Inchgower Distillery

Name: Subtle nut brittle in a bottle
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-oloroso hogshead
ABV: 56.2%
Age: 12

Price: £75.90

Raisins, dates, caramel sauce, walnuts, chocolate, a touch of cherry. The nose screams classic sherry cask. The palate has more cherries in liqueur, mint leaves, and sour haribo sweets moving into a really dry and bitter finish. There’s some more red and black fruits on another try, but overall it’s too dry and bitter on the mid to end palate. Shame as it started off so promising. It’s a 6/10 from us.

Score: 6/10


19.93 - Glen Gairoch Distillery

Name: A night around the standing stone
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 55.3%
Age: 19

Price: £125.00

The nose has everything we want from a 19... pineapple, mango, ripe banana, brioche buns, watermelon, and sponge cake. The palate comes in with synthetic sugar, lime juice, butter biscuits and a tropical fruit salad. It’s a bit thin on the palate and there’s a touch too much peppery alcohol coming through. We love Glen Gairoch but this is a bit disappointing, and £30 more expensive than last year.

Score: 6.5/10


35.335 - Glen Moray Distillery

Name: Sunshine in a glass
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.7%
Age: 10

Price: £64.20

On the nose we're finding lemon balm, must, candy floss, sponge cake, vanilla frosting and a hint of waxiness. The palate has classic sweet vanilla flavours, freshly squeezed lemon, poached pear, moving into lychees and a bit of chocolate in the background. It’s a touch drying and bitter on the finish, but not offensively so. It's alright.

Score: 6/10


37.138 - Cragganmore Distillery

Name: Post-party pick-up
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-american oak PX hogshead
ABV: 56.4%
Age: 19

Price: £134.20

Great nose on this one with heaps of orange marmalade, and Irn bru mixed in with Christmas spices. We’re finding it bright and fizzy, like walking into an old style sweet shop. The palate starts a little warm, but has chewey irn bru bars and raspberry jam. It’s super fruity and rich, with brown sugar, lemon zest, and caramel biscuits. It’s really good, and balanced well, but just a touch drying on the finish. It takes water well and a few drops mellows some of that initial heat. The downside is it’s a bit pricey, however you wouldn’t go wrong if you pick up a bottle.

Score: 8/10


39.276 - Linkwood Distillery

Name: Raspberry fields forever
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.7%
Age: 11

Price: £68.40

Freshly cut grass, green apples, nail varnish remover, and icing sugar on the nose. We’re finding that it’s got quite a restrained nose but the palate brings more sugary sweetness, shortbread, and vanilla custard doughnuts before moving into a woodier finish. Decent mouthfeel, and decent alcohol integration. Nothing too special but it’s good 1st fill bourbon whisky. A little too pricey for what it is.

Score: 6.5/10


41.164 - Dailuaine Distillery

Name: Dark and spicy
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Chinkapin oak with a heavy toast and medium char barrel
ABV: 61.0%
Age: 16

Price: £90.00

Burnt sugar, molasses, herbal cigar box, wet oak… the nose is powerful and vibrant but quite one dimensional.. sweet charred oak. The palate has a nice texture, good alcohol balance, red berries, and strawberry preserve moving into a slight grapefruit bitterness toward the finish. There’s a fair bit of Szechuan peppercorn spice coming through too. Dark and spicy is a good name for this, some will really like this but for us it misses a mark.

Score: 7/10


44.171 - Craigellachie Distillery

Name: Kaleidoscopic contemplation
Flavour Profile: Oily & Coastal
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: Refill #4 char 24 month air seasoned oak with toasted heads barrel
ABV: 60.5%
Age: 10

Price: £66.20

What have they done to this Craigellachie? They’re not wrong it’s oily.. It’s like olives in brine, salt water, icing sugar, cod liver oil capsules. wet rope… it reminds us a little of Old Pulteney. The palate begins with a sourness, alcohol spice, with an oily, viscous texture. There’s no sweetness to be found, and that throws it quite out of balance. Not for us, decent texture but the flavours and aromas don’t gel with our nose and palate.

Score: 6/10


46.148 - Glenlossie Distillery

Name: Disco diva
Flavour Profile: Young & Spritely
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.5%
Age: 12

Price: £69.00

On the nose we're getting spearmint, dusty wardrobes, pencil shavings, cucumber, and a little dusting of icing sugar. The palate has toasted milk loaf with warm butter spread over, caster sugar, a touch of citrus, a touch of oak, and good alcohol balance. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s pleasant, a perfect session dram. If this were £50, we’d rate it 7.5, but at £70 we can’t go higher than 6.5.

Score: 6.5/10


55.80 - Royal Brackla Distillery

Name: Drunken raspberries and prunes
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-Spanish oak oloroso hogshead
ABV: 56.6%
Age: 16

Price: £106.90

We’re getting copper, ginger and cinnamon spice, sour plums, and walnuts on the nose. It’s a little savoury with some ketchup too. The palate has dates, cinnamon, charred oak, ginger spice, vanilla flavoured biscuits and dark chocolate. It’s fine, not our favourite sherry cask as it feels a touch unbalanced, and gets blown out the water by the 37.

Score: 6.5/10


68.108 - Blair Athol Distillery

Name: The more things change the more they stay the same
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: Refill medium plus toasted fine grain French Oak hogshead
ABV: 57.3%
Age: 15

Price: £89.40

The nose is a little funky, overripe bananas, ginger, vinegar, lemon merengue, with a few herbal aromas appearing as it sits in the glass. The palate has.. goats cheese, maybe even blue cheese? Farmyardy, raspberry jam, toasted oak and peppercorns. This feels like it’s an experiment gone wrong, it’s really not to our taste.

Score: 5.5/10


78.68 - Ben Nevis Distillery

Name: Olde funky butte
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-oloroso butt
ABV: 67.3%
Age: 9

Price: £72.00

67.3%, this is going to be rocket fuel… it’s meaty, funky, with cheese and onion crisps, beef roast, pan fond, and dry aged meat on the nose. The palate is fatty, oily, cooking oil, picked walnuts, bitter almond, marzipan, burnt caramel, black pepper spice, and dust. It’s.. we’re not quite sure. Funky nose, too dry of a palate and too much alcohol for us. Disappointing.

Score: 5/10


82.46 - Glencadam Distillery

Name: Grist tea
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.4%
Age: 11

Price: £68.40

Light, floral, gummy bears, banana fritters in golden syrup, coffee revels and white chocolate on the nose. The palate starts with brown sugar, lime zest, chocolate, a hint of coffee, a touch of black pepper spice moving into a slightly metallic finish. It feels a little unbalanced, the nose was lovely but the palate came out of left field in a slightly unpleasant way.

Score: 6/10


89.19 - Tomintoul Distillery

Name: A prehistoric homeage to baking
Flavour Profile: Juicy, Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill HTMC hogshead
ABV: 62.2%
Age: 10

Price: £66.20

Strawberry tartsand croissants...to be honest we’re finding it quite spirit forward on the nose. But digging deeper and there’s also hay and digestive biscuits. The palate has raspberries, plums, white pepper, ginger spice, grape must and a dry oak towards the finish. It’s a touch rough, and isn’t really doing it for us.

Score: 6/10


94.38 - Fettercairn Distillery

Name: A fascinating fusion
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bodega PX barrique
ABV: 52.8%
Age: 13

Price: £87.10

The nose is dusty, a little funky, spicy, white bread sprinkled with sugar, wood glue, light sherry notes that don’t quite punch through enough. The palate has pickling spices, coriander, pencil lead, sour plums, charred wood and pepper. There’s a mix of sweet and sour, but more sour with a dash of herbal mint. Too woody, bitter and funky for us. It’s also not cheap.

Score: 5/10


B4.4 - FEW Distillery

Name: Turn up that dial
Flavour Profile: Bourbon
Region: Chicago
Cask Type: 1st fill 30 US gallon barrel
ABV: 64.1%
Age: 6

Price: £78.80

Brown sugar, molasses, after eights, dark cherries and a hint of Armagnac grape-like aromas. The palate has fresh ground black pepper, cola, ginger spice and corn syrup on the finish. There’s mint leaves in abundance and high percentage chocolate. The finish is dominated by the peppery spice, but lasts for a while. Unexpected as we usually shy away from FEW, but this is isn't too bad.

Score: 6.5/10


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1 comment


  • Robbie Dempsey

    The Cragganmore sounds great, but can’t see any sign of it on the website. Is it part of a package or a future release?


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