Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Scotch Whisky Review: McClelland's Single Malt Highland
My subject for today's review is another in the McLelland's series of low-priced bottlings (here in Michigan, it goes for under $25 a bottle).
These bottles don't indicate a distillery and don't have an age statement, but as soon as I nosed this one I realized that it had a familiar aroma. After a sip, I'd almost bet cash money that it is a very young Glenmorangie. Speculation is rampant online; some have suggested that it may be a 5-year-old Glen Garioch. Since I've never tasted a Glen Garioch, I can't comment, but I'll keep an eye out for a bottle in order to compare the two.
It's got a whiff of peat smoke on the initial nose, an attractive light amber color and a very round and slightly oily mouth feel. On the tongue, there's that nice sweet cookie note, some fresh apple (a crisp, sweet, soft champagne-like Braeburn, Gala, or Pink Lady), some banana, and an unusual, hot, spicy cinnamon flavor that reminds me of cinnamon toast. That note is a little odd but still quite delicious. I'm curious where it came from!
There are some nice nuts in the background, particularly hazelnut. This whisky is hasn't developed a lot of the more complex oxidized flavors that sometimes show up in older whiskies, like dried fruits, leather, tobacco, or dates. It doesn't seem to have been aged in anything else other than the usual bourbon cask.
The finish is long and satisfying and this whisky is "more-ish" -- I just finished a small taste and I'm going to refill my glass.
Because it is relatively light, I don't recommend watering this one. A little water actually brings down the fruit notes, makes it taste much hotter on the tongue, and brings that cinnamon flavor forward so much that it is like drinking an atomic fireball candy; it isn't very enjoyable that way.
It doesn't have the weight and complexity of some of the heavy-duty bottlings, but this is a tremendous bargain, and would make a very good introduction to scotch whisky in general for a newcomer. I'd give it an 8.5, but that intense cinnamon when watered is overpowering, so I'll knock it down half a point to 8.0.