We're back with May’s SMWS outturn review. The preview tasting featured 20 new bottlings, but we're sure there'll be more to come out as the month progresses.
There’s a few interesting cask types this month, but for anyone who missed the young refill bourbon bottlings last month, you’ll be happy to see they have a fair few options this month. They did have two of the festival "rare" small batch releases so we were curious to try those.
Annoyingly not every bottle was available at the preview, but we’ll attempt to post details of the missing bottles 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.
Our previous approach of giving every bottle a score proved popular so we’re going to do it again this month. The score will be based on our initial impressions, and full disclosure, we won’t be spending the time we usually would with a dram we’d do a full review for, but we’re hoping scores will be a little more helpful.
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.
Onto the bottles...
4.317 - Highland Park Distillery
Burnt toast, strong oak, maraschino cherries, marshmallow and cough sweeties. It’s weird, you inhale it and it makes you choke up. The mouthfeel is non-existent, but then grows into lemon and cigarette ash. Burnt sugar, then more bitter oak trying to balance out with a touch of sugar. It weirdly tastes a little like kale too. It’s quite disjointed and personally we’ll pass.
4.330 - Highland Park Distillery
Name: A Picknic in a Boatyard
Flavour Profile: Oily & Coastal
Cask Type: 1st fill Bourbon Barrel
It's very light on the nose. There’s a coastal salinity and light funk, a touch of oak and old sailing rope. There’s a little lemon there too. The palate has strong limoncello into meringue, followed by a heavy alcohol hit. There’s a sour citrus that’s overpowering for us, masquerading as a bitter flavour. Sometimes the oily and coastal flavour profile can be the standout dram of the outturn. This is not one of those occasions.
Lowland Batch '22 - Auchentoshan Distillery
Initially we’re getting sweetened fruit varnish, lime, and plums brûlée’d with white sugar. The Alcohol is nicely balanced with the nose being nice and light. There’s building fruit on the palate, it’s initially very very thin but builds towards a nice fruity finish. It doesn’t have the synthetic sugar we usually get with Auchentoshan, and it’s a little watery overall, but we do like it. Very drinkable but At £90 it’s a little pricey.
7.277 - Longmorn Distillery
Nose has some pineapple, mango, powdered sugar, soft brown leather, and a hint of pine. There’s a slight salinity here we weren’t expecting. Palate has typical bourbon vanilla sweetness, a herbal note we identify as basil along with a little lemon zest, followed by an overly bitter chocolate note. Alcohol is a little out of balance, and we’re getting some parma violets that we don’t particularly care for.
9.239 - Glen Grant Distillery
There’s some soft orchard fruits, melted white chocolate, icing sugar and creamy boiled sweeties. Peaches and cream. It’s quite restrained on the nose. The palate continued with the soft peaches, caramelised white chocolate and a slight butteriness. There’s a woody note here that’s reminding us of bitter leaves that have been near a BBQ. It’s a little one dimensional and a bit boring. At £90 you could do a lot better.
16.69 - Glenturret Distillery
We’re getting TCP and seawater. Lightly smoked pork with a honey glaze, antiseptic, and root beer. Palate has fried onions, a slight fishiness, a hit of alcohol and warming chili spice. Going back there’s some cherry syrup. It’s got a nice mouthfeel but it’s a little hot and the finish leaves a sickly note in the mouth.
23.79 - Bruichladdich Distillery
Could this be a cask of Lochindaal? Buttery, smoked vanilla cream, chemically like a freshly cleaned bathroom. There’s an earthiness, wet clay, and dry leather chaps. There’s a fish aroma, few day old cod, but a nice sweet backbone there too. Palate is very mouth coating, aloe vera, herbaceous smoke and tar. It’s oily, kippers, black pepper and a nice peat-led finish. The only criticism is the finish is slightly short. Otherwise delicious. 7.5/10 or 8/10, it’s expensive but Bruichladdich/Lochindaal is also expensive in general so we’ll leave it up to you. Personally, we bought a bottle.
Score: 7.5 - 8/10
28.76 - Tullibardine Distillery
Nose opens with nail varnish, cucumber, and a hint of chlorine. It’s a little chemically. There is a light sweetness to the nose, we’ll say pear, but the alcohol is a bit unbalanced. The palate is quite perfumed, more of the pear masquerading as candy, followed by a fair bit of oak and candy floss to the finish. We’re also getting something earthy, maybe turmeric, going into a medium length finish. Fine but nothing special.
35.313 - Glen Moray Distillery
On the nose there’s underripe mango, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, papaya chutney, relatively sweet but with a sour note that balances quite nicely. Palate shows more of that tropical fruit with a nice mouthfeel, some fresh lime and coriander seeds. This lives up to its name, but in good balance, albeit the finish ends quite abruptly. Some will love it, some will just like it. We’ll go in the middle with a 7.5/10.
36.188 - Benrinnes Distillery
There’s ginger snaps, rich dark chocolate, a slight hint of sulphur, and a creaminess mixed with some cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate is warming, brown sugar, toffee, more chocolate and sultanas. The mouthfeel isn’t too good, but the flavour makes up for it. The finish is warming, decent length with sweet toffee. Finally a winner.
Speyside Batch '22 - Benrinnes Distillery
The nose has orange zest, copper, ginger, a slight meatiness and touch of biscuit. It’s quite syrupy on the nose. There’s some raisin and chocolate but they’re in the background. The palate is thin, it’s flavourful with burnt orange and ginger snaps. It’s really like an old fashioned cocktail which is nice, but one dimensional. The finish also disappears quicker than we’d like. The alcohol is nicely balanced though. We’ll stretch to a 7/10, but go for the 36.188 above instead.
39.243 - Linkwood Distillery
Its grassy on the nose with dusty oregano, apples. There’s also the typical vanilla and sugar syrup with a little sherbet and dried apricot here too. The palate follows on the sweet and sugary path, but ends with a fair bit of bitter oak and black pepper. It’s like they’ve burnt the sugar syrup then mixed in a fair whack of alcohol. We’re not really finding much to talk about here. A little bit bland.
41.151 - Dailuaine Distillery
Old socks (more specifically the mustiness that comes with them), ginger, orange, touch of white pepper, pine and rich, almost bitter, treacle. Palate has orange juice, like… orange soda and vodka. Red currants, milk chocolate and orange peel on the warming and decent length finish. It’s not bad, maybe a little pricey.
48.150 - Balmenach Distillery
Some strawberry laces, lemon verbena, and sour sweeties like haribo tangfastic. There’s a coastal note here as well. The palate continued with the strawberries, adds some cream, then sprinkles some Maldon sea salt on top. The mouthfeel is nice, we’re getting some blueberries and earthy overdone parsnip, but the finish moves into a bitter oak and dissipates quite quickly. Too soon out of the cask in our opinion.
53.414 - Caol Ila Distillery
It’s salty, smokey, and fishy. We’re getting kippers in abundance, and a bonfire on the beach. A fair bit of ash on the palate, vanilla cream, and cranberry with a touch of distilled vinegar in the background. It’s got dry finish that’s sandy and ashy. We’re getting that core Caol Ila DNA with a few more unexpected flavours and aromas.
66.216 - Ardmore Distillery
On the nose there’s blue cheese, the smouldering embers of a leftover barbecue. It’s like a peated old fashioned cocktail. Cinnamon sticks that have been torched, and a strong ground ginger aroma. Palate has pineapple and cherries on the BBQ, a little sangria, some strawberry on the finish mixed with lingering deep smoke. Really quite nice, and a reasonable price.
68.79 - Blair Athol Distillery
Major tannins on the nose, oakiness, it’s musty with red grapes and a hint of lime. It’s almost like a red wine cask. Palate has a nice sweetness, flowing into peppery spice and salted caramel. There’s something earthy here, cumin perhaps? Along with bitter oak and some roasted coffee beans. Quite interesting, there’s a lot going on but we’re not sure we love it.
108.54 - Allt-a-Bhainne Distillery
There’s some burnt brioche loaf, banana milkshake, prominent peat smoke and a touch of nail varnish. Palate has sweet vanilla cream cake, toasty oak, herbal notes, banana bread and smoked custard. Mouthfeel is lacking a little, but the finish is reasonable. Not bad at all.
113.62 - Braeval (Braes of Glenlivet) Distillery
On the nose there’s strawberry marmalade, Sunny D orange juice, copper, and quite a lot of alcohol. It’s a little reminiscent of a bourbon. It’s quite astringent on the palate, very dry oak and a spice that reminds us of cardamom. There’s sweetness on the initial palate but then bitterness takes over for the remainder and the medium length finish. It’s also not got the greatest mouthfeel, it’s a bit thin.
G15.16 - Loch Lomond (Rhosdhu) Distillery
There’s furniture polish, coconut, gentle lime, zest and leaf. Maybe a little marzipan as well. Palate has a nice pleasant peat mixed with toasted coconut shavings, sugar syrup, white chocolate mice, and light pepperiness. It’s pleasant without being particularly interesting.
Thanks for reading. Let us know what you thought of the outturn in the comments below.
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