Monday, February 04, 2008
Blended Scotch Whisky
It has been exactly a year since I installed a tracker that records visits to Dr. Whisky. Looking at traffic graphs of the past 12 months blows my little malt-soaked mind. I never thought this whisky blog would last as long as it has or attract as much interest from so many corners of the globe. I want to thank every whisky nerd new and old for reading and sharing with others, and to the retailers and distillers who have helped keep this site going from strength to strength, week to week, dram to dram. Thanks to you, this remains an AD-free blog, and I am very proud of that. Now, down to business...
In a way, Clan MacGregor is the younger sibling of The Gordon Highlanders blend as both are progeny of William Grant and Sons but only relatives of Grant's line of blended whisky. They have much lower malt content and are not sold globally. Clan MacGregor is rarely found outside of the USA but remains a HUGE seller as the highest selling US-bottled scotch (ie. it is tankered over to the states for bottling) and number 2 of all blended whisky in the US, behind Dewar's. The other major market for Clan MacGregor is Thailand where the brand has been introduced with a promotional push in recent years. A great thing about being bottled in the US of A is that you can find it in those huge-ass bottles with handles. Love it.
There is also some irony in the fact that at the value-end of the whisky range of two competing companies, Wm Grant and Sons and Pernod Ricard have brands named Clan MacGregor and Clan Campbell. "Such was the hatred between these two clans at the turn of the 17th century that the Campbells succeeded in having the MacGregor name outlawed," writes Jim Murray in Classic Blended Scotch (p.126), "to the extent that anyone bearing the name would be removed of it at pain of death." It took over 150 years for this savage law to be repealed but today the battle lives on in sales wars between French company Pernod Ricard's Clan Campbell (13th highest selling blended whisky worldwide) and Scottish company Wm Grant&Sons' Clan MacGregor (14th highest selling blended whisky worldwide).
Bottle text is always entertaining, especially with low end blends. The best part of this bottle text? "It is an achievement of perfection, distilled by skilled craftsmen, aged for thirty-six months, and blended by experts whose many years of experience in their art create a character of smoothness and taste that is unmatched." Unmatched taste is not necessarily a positive and although I like the poetic sonority of "distilled by skilled craftsmen", aged for 36 months is barely legal (whisky MUST be matured at least 3 years, 36 months, to be called "scotch whisky"). Brilliant. Excited to taste this puppy.
* - chances are you will find it cheaper.
Fresh, new-make element about it (which I quite like), with a bit of white pepper, Wonderbread, and not as much sweetness as I expected. In fact, not really sweet at all. In fact, not really ANYTHING at all.
Palate shows a touch of grain sweetness and the liquid has a pretty good body, not watery or oily, some elasti cresistance, if you know what I mean.
Totally surprised. Not hard to swallow or hot, actually quite chewy texture-wise and remarkably easy to drink, but really does lack any character. An absolute challenge to make tasting notes or to note any tastes. This is to be consumed by volume, ie. it is not a whisky to mull over on a late winter's evening, and for use as a budget mixing Scotch whisky. Ice, soda, red Noilly Prat, Crabbies, Coca-Cola, whatever.
Still shocked it wasn't horrid. 19 million Americans can't be wrong.
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