SMWS October 2023 Outturn Review


We're back with the October outturn review. The preview tasting this month featured 18 new bottles, quite a few less than usual. It did feature an already released vaults collection bottle that we hadn't sampled before which was nice.

Not all the bottles releasing in October 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.

As suggested be a few people we’ve also just signed up for buy me a coffee, so if you would like to contribute to the website running costs or just buy as a dram you can do it here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/TwoWhiskyBros. 

There wasn't too many exciting bottles on paper this month and if we had to guess this is the calm before the storm that is big pre-Christmas releases.

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.

  • 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...

4.380 - Highland Park Distillery

Name: Waves of aromatic smoke
Flavour Profile: Lightly Peated
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.3%
Age: 13

Price: £82.00

Branches on a log fire, and a little medicinal note too. We’re getting a lot less farmyard funk than normal, but we do get the honey in the form of honey lemsip. There’s a bit of dustiness appearing too. The palate is hot, the 62% really shows through. We’re finding apples coated in caramel, black pepper and burnt honeycomb. With the addition of some water, those harsher spice notes are mellowed and we’re getting more of the earthy smoke, vanilla oak and a touch of rosemary. A dram that needs some water, but overall not too bad.

Score: 7/10

Value: Good price for the distillery.


5.130 - Auchentoshan Distillery

Name: Chocolate mice nibbling rhubarb
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Lowland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-oloroso STR barrique
ABV: 45.1%
Age: 31

Price: £599.00

This is an older release we had the chance to sample… A lovely creamy nose, whipped cream, caramel, peaches and nectarines, light lemon zest notes and vanilla essence. The palate begins with more caramel, fudge and white chocolate. It’s very light, with a bit of white pepper spice underlying the palate. We’re also getting some clementine, orange essence and hazelnut waffles right at the end. Those synthetic sugar, triple distilled notes we usually get from Auchentoshan seem to be a bit overshadowed by the PX cask, but saying that this is a good cask finish that has resulted in a pleasant, light, sweet and fruity dram that we could drink all night.

Score: 8/10

Value: Given this one's still sitting on the site says more than we ever could.


6.66 - Macduff Distillery

Name: The Devil's call
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill French oak Jamaican rum barrique
ABV: 59.1%
Age: 13

Price: £81.20

Ooft what is this? Sawdust, yeast, grated ginger, and something super savoury too, a bit meaty, but we can’t quite put our finger on what it is. Slightly metallic in places. We’re also finding a mix of fermented fruits. A bit weird. The palate feels quite disjointed at first sip, it's all over the place. We’re getting orange, crystallised ginger, milk chocolate - more specifically the rum balls that you get around Christmas time. The mouthfeel is fine, the finish is a reasonable length with black pepper spice and oak. The palate is much better than the nose but we don’t think we’d be coming back for a dram. Some may enjoy it more than us though, and we'll try and be fair in our score.

Score: 6/10

Value: A year or two ago this would have been £10 cheaper, but prices are creeping up across the board.


9.287 - Glen Grant Distillery

Name: Monet meets Sherlock Holmes
Flavour Profile: Deep, Old & Dignified
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: Refill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 44.5%
Age: 28

Price: £295.00

It’s got that lovely old whisky smell, dusty wardrobes, lemon drops, pear, vanilla essence, mango pulp and a hint of papaya. The palate begins with lots of citrus, orange peel, marshmallows, white chocolate mice, a touch of clove, moving into candy floss then some drier oak flavours. The mouthfeel is a touch watery, but it still manages to retain a good amount of flavour that lasts a good while. It’s got a bit of a coffee revel thing right at the end of the finish, rather than petering off in the graceful manner it started. We could nose this for hours, but the mouthfeel lets it down slightly.

Score: 7.5/10

Compared to the Auchentoshan this is an absolute bargain.


11.45 - Tomatin Distillery

Name: Ruddy-cheeked old fruit
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill toasted ex-white wine barrique
ABV: 60.2%
Age: 8

Price: £59.00

Grape must, yeast, and an initial hit of coffee beans that appear then disappear quicker than expected. We’re also finding some natural orange wines, all quite funky yet pleasant. The palate has some ginger, grapefruit and a bit of that coffee in the background. It also reminds us a bit of a toasted oak cask. The mouthfeel and finish are both good, overall quite a nice dram, but not as good as last months.

Score: 7/10

Value: £59 for full maturation is pretty good.


39.286 - Linkwood Distillery

Name: in a coo soaring garden
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 61.3%
Age: 8

Price: £68.40

Lemon balm, cut grass, melon, white pepper, a lot of spice on the nose. We’re also finding a touch of candle wax and green apple skin. The palate brings forward a lot of orchard fruit at first, relatively sweet but quickly moves into more woody, oaky bitterness. Grapefruit, a hint of French pastry and sugar syrup. It’s not the worst dram we've ever had, but it's definitely one destined for malt of the moment.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Not terrible, but if you're interested we'd bet this will be discounted at some point.


41.171 - Dailuaine Distillery

Name: Sweet and savoury synthesis
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-oloroso
ABV: 57.1%
Age: 13

Price: £80.50

Turkey twizzers, Irn-Bru, tomato ketchup, sherry vinegar. It benefits from air, it's aggressive upon first nose. There’s also blackcurrants and szechuan peppercorns too. The palate is.. thin. We’re finding a lot of black pepper, meaty sherry (in a bit of a mouldy way), toffee crisp bars and fizzy Haribo sweets. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but also still not great. This has reaffirmed our general dislike for Spanish oak sherry casks.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Not bad for a sherry finish.


44.166 - Craigellachie Distillery

Name: Fantasy island, daydream inspiration
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill Spanish oak ex-oloroso hogshead
ABV: 59.6%
Age: 18

Price: £116.20

Big savoury notes, ketchup, babysick (we might be biased..), ginger chocolate, hotdogs, a little bit of coal smoke too. There’s a bit of pickling spice coming through as well. The palate has dark chocolate, barbecued bacon, grapefruit, charred oak and more of that ketchup, but a more acidic brand of ketchup than Heinz. It leaves a black pepper spice on your tongue, but the finish does last a good length. The mouthfeel is nice though, relatively creamy. While we wouldn’t really recommend it, we do enjoy it more than the average Craigellachie.

Score: 6/10

Value: Good price for a 18yo.


46.149 - Glenlossie Distillery

Name: Field to fruit bowl
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 59.3%
Age: 12

Price: £69.00

Mentos, vanilla, icing sugar, a faint hint of pineapple, some alcohol spice.. and some toothpaste. The nose is pretty simple, and we’re not noticing too many other aromas as we sit with it. The palate has a good texture, and brings forward more of those menthol notes, white pepper, icing sugar again.. finishing in a bit of chili spice. The palate mirrors the nose quite closely. It’s not a bad dram, just a little simple. Perhaps a re-rack would have brought something more interesting out.

Score: 6/10

Value: Not a bad price for a 12yo.


48.162 - Balmenach Distillery

Name: Mint chocolate granola
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 50.5%
Age: 14

Price: £78.00

Stale bread, carpenters workshop, rolled oats, orange essence, fruit and nut chocolate bars. Quite peppery as expected. The palate has a bit of upfront fruit, chocolate orange, melon, mint matchsticks, with a poor mouthfeel but decent alcohol integration. There’s some good points here, but overall it’s a bit spicy and boring.

Score: 6/10

Value: One of the better priced releases this month.


53.459 - Caol Ila Distillery

Name: Steely. smoky. sweet and spicy
Flavour Profile: Peated
Region: Islay
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon hogshead
ABV: 60.6%
Age: 11

Price: £78.50

Ashy peat smoke, bonfires on the beach, a little pickle brine, tar, mackerel, a little chloride too. Quite a bit of sweetness and salt appearing on the nose too. The palate has a thinner mouthfeel than we would have hoped, but we’re getting sweet oak, tar, wet pebbles and salty anchovies. There’s some nice sweetness reminding us of s’mores, a bit of white pepper spice too. It’s a good Caol Ila, we can’t really fault it too much, there’s just a lot of good Caol Ila on the market.

Score: 7/10

Value: Not bad for Islay peat.


64.144 - Mannochmore Distillery

Name: Orchards Ahoy
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Sweet
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: Refill ex-Jamaican rum barrel
ABV: 59.6%
Age: 11

Price: £65.60

Flambéd banana, wood spice, crystalised ginger, sponge cake, a little bit of caramel, cereal notes but also some sawdust too. The palate has a lot of spice, ginger, pepper, cardamom, with quite a woody, bitter finish, high percentage cocoa and heavily roasted coffee beans. There’s a touch of orange essence too. We’d have personally put this in the Spicy & Dry flavour profile.

Score: 5.5/10

Value: Decent value, shame about the whisky.


64.146 - Mannochmore Distillery

Name: Magna rum laude
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill Guyanese rum barrel
ABV: 60.2%
Age: 11

Price: £65.60

Perfumed to start. Lavender, icing sugar, fondant icing, a little sponge cake too. We’re getting some plums as well. The palate has some limoncello, white wine, appletiser with a bit too much upfront spice. We’re also getting some Terrys chocolate orange appearing after a while. Reasonable dram, nothing particularly exciting, a bit too hot for us, but the better of this months 64's.

Score: 6/10

Value: Like the other 64 this isn't bad value.


70.59 - Balblair Distillery

Name: Rum 'n' raisin spice cream
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 55.5%
Age: 15

Price: £89.40

Dusty, woody, they’ve nailed the dryness here. We’re getting ginger, a bit of citrus and very little sweetness on the nose. There’s a bit of metallic Irn-Bru too. The palate has some blackberries, chocolate coated raisins, pineapple, coffee beans and light caramel notes. It does end very dry though, with oak spice carrying through. The mouthfeel is lacking though. Overall one of the better spicy and dry drams, but we’re not rushing back for another glass.

Score: 6/10

Value: There's better value offerings from other bottlers if you look around.


73.157 - Aultmore Distillery

Name: Fresh and herbaceous
Flavour Profile: Spicy & Dry
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel
ABV: 62.1%
Age: 12

Price: £75.00

A little vanilla, pine, menthol, lemon zest but overall it’s quite tight and one note. We’re also finding a touch of dry leather and the lightest hint of charred wood. The palate has more fruit coming through, gala apples, sugar syrup, waffle cones, with a fair whack of wood spice behind it all. There’s some caramel on the finish, but it’s just a bit too peppery for us.

Score: 6/10

Value: For this price we'd have expected a finish.


78.73 - Ben Nevis Distillery

Name: A maze of amazement
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Highland
Cask Type: 2nd fill ex-PX hogshead
ABV: 58.8%
Age: 9

Price: £68.20

Irn-Bru, dunnage funk, maybe a bit of rye spice too. We’re also finding ginger, a little bit of roast pork and fennel. Air brings out some sherry vinegar as well. The palate has a fizziness, red kola, cinnamon sticks, caramel shortcake and orange peel. It’s a bit reminiscent of a strong old fashioned cocktail. The mouthfeel is good and the finish has a decent length. A little funky and quite alcohol forward, but some will enjoy the intense sherry character.

Score: 6/10

Value: It wouldn't have been nice to see this a few quid cheaper, but it is what it is.


85.87 - Glen Elgin Distillery

Name: Clean as a Whistle
Flavour Profile: Sweet, Fruity & Mellow
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill Limousin oak hogshead
ABV: 57.7%
Age: 15

Price: £84.00

Icing sugar, lemon, sherbet, custard doughnuts, tangerine, typical vanilla, quite a simple nose, relatively one dimensional. The palate has a really good alcohol integration, there’s absolutely no spice at all, instead we’re getting a fruit salad of melon, apple, peach, pear and a little bit of lychee. The mouthfeel is a touch thin, and the finish is a touch short, but it’s a great breakfast dram or one to introduce non-whisky drinkers to the cult.

Score: 7/10

Value: We're probably starting to sound repetitive here, it's not a bargain, but the price isn't outrageous in today's market.


95.87 - Auchroisk Distillery

Name: Frolics on the forest floor
Flavour Profile: Deep, Rich & Dried Fruits
Region: Speyside
Cask Type: 2nd fill Moselle oak hogshead
ABV: 58.1%
Age: 17

Price: £93.00

On the nose there’s buttered toast, lemon balm, cinnamon, sawdust, a bit of meaty rancio too. There’s also cola and something a little herbal too. The palate has citrus up front, freshly squeezed lemon and lime, moving into sweet oak, caramel, ginger and cinnamon. There’s a good bit of pepper spice appearing too. It’s a bit spicy for a 17 year old, it doesn’t taste the age, we’d have placed it around 12. Interesting cask finish.

Score: 6.5/10

Value: Pretty good value for a 17yo.


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