SMWS October 2022 Outturn Review


We’re back with the October outturn review. It felt like an above average outturn this month as we got the return of Port Charlotte, High Coast and a few other interesting distilleries. The usual suspects aka young bourbon casks also seemed a little better than usual.

At time of writing we’re unsure if all bottles were available at the preview, but if any are missing 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.

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...

4.326 - Highland Park Distillery

Name: Smoked haddock souffle and vanilla cupcakes
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill ex bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.7%
Age: 14

Price: £69.40

On the nose initially there's vanilla essence, salt, earth, honey and farmyard funk. We're not the biggest Highland park fans, but we’re finding this is actually not bad. On the palate there’s a nice sweetness with with some muted peat. we're getting lime juice, sugar melting in a cup of coffee and a touch of ash. One of our favorites Highland Parks this year, but given we usually hate these we've no idea what anyone else will think.

Score: 7/10


9.257 - Glen Grant Distillery

Name: Perfumed tropicality
Flavour Profile: Light & Delicate
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 53.6%
Age: 18

Price: £100.80

On the nose there's lemon bon bons, and candied yam that have been dusted with icing sugar. As we go back to it we're notice a pleasant creaminess in the background. On the palate there’s sweetened ginger sponge topped with lemon curds, oranges and tangerines. It's got a slightly thin mouthfeel, but has a good length finish. It's also a touch hot. If it was a few quid cheaper we’d give it an extra half point.

Score: 7/10


19.84 - Glen Garioch Distillery

Name: Under an apple tree - that's where I want to be
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 52.8%
Age: 19

Price: £106.20

This smells like Glen Garioch. There's heaps of synthetic sugar with a touch of baking spices and just a hint of menthol that reminds us of Vicks Vapour Rub. On the palate there's candied ginger, vanilla syrup and grapefruit. It's got a reasonable length finish with a little pepper spice. Nice mouthfeel, and all that lets it down is a very slight bitter note on the finish. Still it's another...

Score: 7/10


28.87 - Tullibardine Distillery

Name: Sugar-coated oak tree
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Highlands
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 60.4%
Age: 10

Price: £57

There’s some alcohol on the nose along with ginger, almonds, and cashew nuts. On the palate it's like drinking sugar free vanilla syrup that someone has mixed in chilli powder. It’s got decent mouthfeel and a reasonable finish, but there's just too much spice for us. After some surprisingly decent bourbon casks this outturn it's a return to mediocrity.

Score: 6/10


35.327 - Glen Moray Distillery

Name: Emergency whisky!
Flavour Profile: Juicy Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.6%
Age: 9

Price: £57

Lemon sponge cake, tangerines, and gingerbread on the nose. On the palate disappointment. there's a fair amount of citrus showing in the form of lemonade, and lemon sherbet. unfortunately, these notes are quickly overpowered by the alcohol and then everything just disappears. It's too hot and finishes to quickly. 35s used to be so reliable...

Score: 6.5/10


36.193 - Benrinnes Distillery

Name: Juggling oranges in a humidor
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill American oak PX hogshead
ABV: 59.6%
Age: 9

Price: £70.25

We're getting some balsamic vinegar, brown sauce, fresh cherries, and cinnamon. On the palate gingerbread men, cranberries and Pepsi Cola. Its got a medium length finish with some of the ginger heat lingering. It's also got a decent mouthfeel. It's a more savoury sherried dram but it's a nice one. For us it's a 7/10 as it just missing the "je ne sais quoi" needed to take it to the next level. For some people this will be an 8/10.

Score: 7/10


39.253 - Linkwood Distillery

Name: Spey the day away
Flavour Profile: Juicy Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.1%
Age: 10

Price: £61.20

Initially on the nose there's some strawberries cream sponge cake, dairy milk chocolate, garam masala and toast. on the palate there's icing sugar, strawberry syrup and chocolate covered apples The palate has a nice cream sweetness, but the finish is over a little quickly. It's better than most months 39s, but it's still not blowing us away, and there are better options available in this outturn if you want young first fill bourbon.

Score: 6.5/10


46.126 - Glenlossie Distillery

Name: Sweeties in the forest
Flavour Profile: Juicy Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 55.4%
Age: 12

Price: £57.10

Grilled pineapple, apple puree earth and watermelon on the nose. Palate has ginger beer, fruit pastels, granny smith apples and milk. It's mouthfeel is a touch thin, and it's finish a touch short, but it has good alcohol integration. It's not an unpleasant dram and has some nice flavours on the palate and nose, but these can't fully compensate for the disappointing finish and thin mouthfeel.

Score: 7/10


48.111 - Balmenach Distillery

Name: Baking in the potting shed
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.8%
Age: 7

Price: £45.60

Cinnamon, ginger and butter on the nose. Air reveals some icing sugar, parma violets and fruit salad sweets. Sadly, the sweeter notes don’t carry through to the palate, but the ginger does. Along with some cinnamon, chilli and not enough vanilla sweetness to balance out the spice. It really tastes its ABV, and while some might like this, it’s just too spicy for us.

Score: 6.5/10


51.23 - Bushmills Distillery

Name: Continental Drift
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Northern Ireland
Cask Type: 1st fill Jamaican rum barrique
ABV: 53.4%
Age: 21

Price: £165

It's Incredibly fruity on the nose, it’s fruit pastels covered in double cream. The fruit carries to the palate although we'd describe the palate as a packet of opal fruits. Its also got a good mouthfeel, reasonable length finish, and good alcohol integration. We usually like the society Bushmills and this is no exception Now. If it was cheaper we could stretch to an 8, but at £165 we can't go higher than a 7. Now if everyone can avoid buying this we can hopefully get a bottle in the nexrt sale.

Score: 7/10


53.425 - Caol Ila Distillery

Name: Illeach ceviche
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: refill bourbon hogshead
ABV: 60.8%
Age: 10

Price: £66.30

On the nose there's smoked kippers that have had buttered melted over them, peanuts, log burning fire, and some nice vanilla sweetness. On the palate saline solution, dirty water, lavender, and burnt apples. Good finish and mouthfeel. We almost bought one, but we already have too many 53s and as it good as it is there has been better, and we've no doubt with Christmas coming up we will get a couple of great society 53s.

Score: 7/10


73.147 - Aultmore Distillery

Name: Patisserie au Jardin
Flavour Profile: Juicy Oak & Vanilla
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 57.1%
Age: 10

Price: £61.20

We're getting some meringue, burnt brioche bun, popcorn, a hint of caramel, and old book dust on the nose. There's not much going on with the palate. There's a little bit of citrus and vanilla essence, but not much else. It's also very watery, and there's not much of an alcohol bite. which is a weird thing to say about a cask strength whisky. definitely not one for us.

Score: 6/10


94.27 - Fettercairn Distillery

Name: Leave the bottle...
Flavour Profile: Highlands
Region: Sweet Fruity & Mellow
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 54.4%
Age: 13

Price: £72.60

Initially we get some milk that turns to cream, honey and foam bananas. giving it air reveals a nice nuttiness. Palate has a pleasant citrus sweetness, and some barley sugars that disappears too quickly transitioning into cracked black pepper spice on the finish. with air we find it develops a bitter coffee note on the finish. Not our favorite distillery and this does nothing to change our minds.

Score: 6/10


127.45 - Bruichladdich Distillery

Name: Leviathan 
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon 
ABV: 58.7%
Age: 20

Price: £275

This opens with some grilled lemons, vanilla pods, burnt oak, ands warehouse funk. It kind of reminds us of Campbeltown funk. The palate has a great balance of sweetness and peat. we're getting apple pie, brown sugar, dirt / earth, kiln smoke and cream. Its incredibly mouth coating like drinking olive oil. It's also got a good length finish. Being honest we didn’t want to enjoy. It's far too expensive, and sadly now we want a bottle. If you like dirty earth peat this is for you. If you want that on a budget consider getting the 53 instead it's a reasonable substitute.

Score: 8/10


128.23 - Penderyn Distillery

Name: Fruit Hat
Flavour Profile: Sweet Fruity & Mellow
Region: Wales
Cask Type: Refill french oak barrique
ABV: 61.1%
Age: 8

Price: £76

on the nose there's cream soda, with a note that’s reminiscent of smoke. Some grapefruit, honey, freshly brewed coffee and pear. On the palate It’s sweet, fruity and mellow to steal a phrase from the society. There's some mellon, simple syrup and apple cider, It’s a pleasant easy drinking dram, and one of the better recent Penderyn releases. While it's a touch expensive we're still going to go with a...

Score: 8/10


140.15 - Balcones Distillery

Name: Walk-in cigar humidor
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Texas
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 55.5%
Age: 3

Price: £86.70

Sticking our nose in the glass we get milk chocolates, cranberries, raspberries, cream, and vanilla pods. On the palate there's some cinnamon, ginger, quaker porridge, golden syrup, and red apples. Balconies can be hot, but alcohol here is pretty well integrated. Its also got a nice mouthfeel. We’re not usually one for spicy and sweet society releases, but this one really works. If we weren't trying to cut back on our purchases we'd have got a bottle.

Score: 8/10


144.3 - High Coast Distillery

Name: They sailed out to the sea...
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Sweden
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.8%
Age: 8

Price: £88.70

There's a nice balance of sweetness and peat on both the nose and palate. we're getting burnt newspaper, bread, salt, and grilled fruits on the nose. On the palate there's sherbet lemons, gewurztraminer wine, mangos, papaya and light peat like a smoldering fire. If we were to critique this we'd say it's a touch short on the finish. knock a few quid off the price and this would be an 8. We're sure distillery fans wont be disappointed by this.

Score: 7.5/10


Batch 18

Name: Marmalade overdrive
Flavour Profile: Small batch blended malt 
Region: Small batch 
Cask Type: 2nd fill bourbon & shiraz barrels & hogsheads
ABV: 50%
Age: 14

Price: £62

We're getting orange marmalade and lemon juice. Well the name is accurate. there's also some double cream, and red fruits. On the palate there's some ginger, Appletiser and orange Fanta. It's fine we're a bit off put by the synthetic sugar on the palate. The mouthfeel is just a touch thin, but the alcohol is well integrated. Like most society blends it's fine just a little boring, and at £62 a touch pricey.

Score: 6/10


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