Monday, January 29, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #21

Whyte & Mackay 12yo Masters Reserve
Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv

Welcome to week FIVE of this Malt Mission. No jaundice, liver cramps, or bloating, so without any further ado, here begins a highland-themed week.

Charles Mackay and James Whyte started a company as whisky merchants and bonded warehousemen in Glasgow in 1882. W&M Special was their first blend and it was successful in the English speaking countries of the world. After WWII they focused on the home market and now sell more than 1 million cases a year.

The whisky cherishes their 'double marrying' process: they first vat a malt(25-35 different single malts), then put it in casks to age for a further 8 months and then mix it with a vatted grain mix(up to 6 different grain whiskies, aged together for 3 months) , and then marry sprit for an additional 4 months as a blend. Pretty labour intensive, it seems, so it is safe for one to assume that the stuff inside cannot be that fancy if a bottle of the standard unaged blend goes for £10.

But that is not to say that it cannot be good. As we know, many blends excel because they become more than the sum of their parts and a testament to the art of the blender.

This whisky contains the W&M owned Dalmore, Jura, and Fettercairn as well as Balblair and Tomintoul among others.


Delicate something, but too faint to put a finger on initially. Wood. Oatmeal. A dry facecloth, fungus. Sweet but quite inconsequential. There is a slightly toxic alcohol scent, too, like when ketchup or apple juice go vinegar-y. Grain whisky that comes off like tequila.

Watery mouth feel. Sweet. Rainsin Bran breafast cereal. Quite oaky. Simple and thin.


Extremely disappointing AND misleading for several reasons. This Whyte & Mackay must be quite an anomaly as I cannot find any info on it. I got it at and Sainsbury or Morrisons in the Highlands of Scotland last year for 14 pounds or so. I bought it beacause the 12yo Premium reserve we had when Richard Paterson came to give us a tasting was really stellar. It has won awards(gold medal at The International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2004), and critical acclaim. I spent two great nights with a bottle this past summer.

But the name "Premium Reserve" has, it seems, been used for 3 different W&M blends. And there are at least 2 different 12 year old blends. "Master's Reserve" is the name of W&M's own 21 year old blend. ?!?! This is irresponisble and misleads consumers. Additionally, there is NOTHING on the label saying "blended whisky" (no issue with that, SWA?) and on the back is written, "Med Karamel. Mit Farbstoff(Zuckercouleur)" (I assume translation not needed).

So on at least three fronts this whisky is deceptive and I find that very disappointing. I would still recommend that you buy or try their 12yo Premium Reserve of you see it anywhere as it is a very rich, tasty, highland influenced blend that is great value (£16), but boo on you Whyte&Mackay. India can have you.

Malt Mission #20
Malt Mission #22
Malt Mission #23
Malt Mission #24
Malt Mission #25

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