Glen Garioch 2015 and Secret Islay 2017 Swell de Spirits

A few weeks ago, we received a few samples from the French independent bottler Swell de Spirits, including a few whiskies. Today we try two of them: a Glen Garioch 2015 and a Secret Islay from a south shore distillery known for its eccentric marketing team and its yearly non-age-statement releases…

Glen Garioch 2015 Swell de Spirits Review

This single cask Glen Garioch was distilled in November 2015 and bottled in November 2023 after full maturation in first-fill bourbon barrel #5078. A total of 353 bottles (500 ml) were produced at 53.6% ABV, without chill filtration or artificial colouring. It is still available on a few online shops; check Whiskybase for links. The price ranges from €86 to €90 per bottle. Unfortunately, I forgot to try it with a few drops of water due to a phone call during the review, so the tasting notes are based solely on the whisky neat, without reduction.

Glen Garioch 2015 Swell de Spirits


Pale straw.


Neat: Notes of straw, honey, dried grass, and dried apricots, with some floral elements and a slight soapy scent, which isn’t unpleasant fortunately. Over time, it develops a potpourri aroma.

With water: Unfortunately, I forgot to test it with water.


Neat: Waxy mouthfeel with a slight alcohol tingle. Prominent citrus flavours of lemon, grapefruit, and orange zest, accompanied by light herbaceous notes, a hint of tar, wood char, a touch of pepper, coriander, and roasted hazelnuts.

With water: Unfortunately, I still forgot to test it with water.


The finish is long, with lingering citrus notes complemented by a sweetness reminiscent of propolis sweets and the icing sugar from a gâteau Nantais.


A very good Glen Garioch, a bit young but flavourful. The light soapy note on the nose might be off-putting to those particularly sensitive to it, but I found it subtle and not bothersome. The palate was more impressive than the nose, and I would have liked to spend more time savouring it. Unfortunately, a phone call interrupted me, and I finished my glass without paying full attention. Next time, I’ll remember to turn off my phone while writing tasting notes.

Rating: 7/10

Secret Islay Blended Malt for Intercaves Swell de Spirits Review

Our second whisky is officially an Islay Blended Malt, but it’s likely just teaspooned and is most probably in fact a single malt from a south shore Islay distillery, not starting with an L (nor a P!) There’s an even bigger hint on the label! This whisky was distilled in 2017, aged in a hogshead (with palindromic number #21000012), and bottled in November 2023 for Intercaves, a network of off-licences that highly values Swell de Spirits. A total of 432 bottles (500 ml) were filled at a robust cask strength of 61.4%, without chill filtration or artificial colouring. It is still available at some Intercaves shops for €79.

Secret Isla Blended Malt 2017 Swell de Spirits


Pale Straw


Neat: Notes of maritime peat, iodine, seashells, wet kelp, antiseptic, and fresh, damp linen, with a hint of Sancerre white wine.

With water: There’s not much change, but perhaps the aromas are strangely less distinct. There’s a subtle hint of soapiness, maybe?


Neat: The palate presents with citrusy and creamy flavours at first, accompanied by a thick, waxy mouthfeel. Notes of pepper, oysters, chocolate, smoked pollock, charred wood, and chalk follow.

With water: The addition of water brings out a sweeter profile, along with intensified citrus notes (reminiscent of freshly squeezed lemon juice) and hints of quince.


The finish leaves a gentle warmth, with lingering flavours of smoked chocolate, chalk, charred wood, and a hint of caramel.


This Secret Islay whisky offers a profile that’s perhaps more peaty but less smoky compared to the classic Ardbeg 10. It bears resemblance to the Wee Beastie, which is understandable given its 6-year age. It’s a vibrant and delightful Islay whisky, and experiencing it at full strength provides a nice opportunity.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thanks to Swell de Spirits for the samples. Lead picture from Whisky Leaks, Glen Garioch bottle photo taken from Whiskybase, and the Secret Islay one from Swell’s Instagram.

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