Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Whisky review: Clan MacGregor

This is a blended Scotch whisky and, according to a number of online sources, is made primarily of malt whisky from the Kininvie distillery, blended with a high percentage of grain whisky. Kininvie is owned by William Grant & Sons, the company that also owns Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Ailsa Bay (a new distillery), and Tuthilltown Spirits (a U.S. whiskey distillery).

Kininvie malt is not bottled by the distillery as a single malt. When we were in Scotland in 2010 and took the Balvenie tour, I asked the tour guide why Kininvie's malt is not sold on its own. He said something to the effect of, "It's not really appropriate for being bottled as a single malt." This means it tastes like crap.

The bottle also says it's aged for "thirty-six months" (also known as three years, the minimum to be legally called Scotch whisky), though this should not necessarily mean it is of poor quality. Other whiskies, such as the Port Charlottes and especially the Kilchomans, are bottled very young and have gotten great reviews. Though those are single malts, I see no inherent reason why a three-year-old blended whisky should necessarily be "bad" if it's only aged three years. The fact that the bottle label put the whisky's age in terms of months, though, makes me wonder if the marketing folks wanted to make sure a bigger number was on the label in order to hide the fact that it's barely legal whisky. Actually, I'm sure they did...and really, I'm not sure why they wanted to mention the age at all.

So here we go, with the hopes that our tour guide's carefully-put statement and the apparent marketing ploy on the label will not cloud my judgment...

Clan MacGregor, 40% ABV
Blended Scotch whisky

Nose: Light and fruity, kind of like the standard Jameson. We're off to a decent start. Oh wait. After a bit more nosing, I really start to smell just ethanol and not much else.

Palate: The crap is beginning to really shine through here. Fruity crap, a bit of woody crap, and something in the back of my throat like charred crap.

Finish: Light fruits turning into crap.

Rating (of 100): 53. It would do in a pinch, like if the only other potential drinks you had were Drano and a full spittoon. I might still go for the spittoon, though, hoping one of its contributors had consumed a different whisky prior to use.

In the end, the remainder of my dram met the same fate a bottle of Drano would expect to meet.

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