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McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt Whisky

Review: McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt Whisky  65/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 23, 2010

The McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt whisky is the least typical of the four main expressions of this brand. In fact, it was difficult for me, in a blind taste test, to associate this whisky with any particular region, or should I say style, of Scottish whisky. In the end, I correctly named this a Lowland whisky in a blind taste test, more as a matter of default, than by ascertaining distinct lowland characteristics from the dram. The whisky is produced by Morrison Bowmore Distillers. It is distilled from a distillery in the Lowland region of Scotland, and selected to represent the character and essence of the Lowland whisky region.

In the Bottle 5/5

All of the McClelland’s Single Malt whiskies come in attractive cardboard canisters.   These canisters each feature a vivid landscape by British illustrator Kathy Wyatt.  The landscape reflects the particular region of Scotland from which the whisky was distilled. The bottles themselves are typical slender whisky style bottles with labeling that reflects the same landscape as the canisters.  A solid cork topper  crowns the presentation.  I have absolutely no complaint with the whisky presentation in the bottle.

In The Glass 7/10

This whisky is somewhat of a yellow/golden colour in the glass.   When I swirl the glass I noticed only a light oil and very skinny legs on the sides of the glass.  The aroma from the glass was unexpectedly harsh. I would describe it as acrid and pungent.  I also received charred woody aromas and darkly caramelized sugars.  Medicinal scents of sharp alcohol and perhaps light menthol made it difficult to ascertain much more.

In the Mouth 38/60

In the case of the McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt Scotch,  the “lowland” style in not as apparent as the other regional styles were  (see my reviews for The McClelland’s Highland and McClelland’s Islay whisky’s).  This is not light and laid back as I expect a Lowland whisky to be.  It has an alcohol harshness, with a woody,  bitter pronunciation to the taste. Charred wood and sugars are forefront on the palate.

I taste a sherry cask influence  with expressions of prunes, figs, and dried currants under the charred and woody flavours.   Unfortunately these flavours are swallowed by the woody bitterness.  Rather than a laid back expression of lowland malt, this is more of an expression of bittersweet pungent wood tannin.

In My Throat 9/15

The finish is dour and full of bitterness.  Pungent spices are pronounced during the exit down the throat.  Wood smoke is also present which might have been pleasant had it been able to carry sweeter malty flavours with it.

The Afterburn  6/10

I hardly know what to say here. The Lowland expression of McClelland’s  Single Malt Whisky disappointed me greatly.  It seems to miss the mark on so many levels, that I almost think perhaps that I have missed the whole point of the whisky.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Cocktail

For the McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt Whisky I am going to suggest a that we do our best to accentuate the positive.  The bitter tastes I noted on my palate will actually work very well in certain styles of cocktails.

Lowland Holiday Scotch Sour
1 1/2 oz McClelland’s Lowland Scotch
3/4 oz cherry liqueur
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 egg white
Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain
Serve in a cocktail glass

Add lemon wedge for garnish


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


2 Responses to “McClelland’s Lowland Single Malt Whisky”

  1. Mike D said

    Hmm, too bad about this one. I’ve heard it is actually a young Auchentoshan, which makes sense because Auchentoshan is owned by Morrison Bowmore.

    • Your association with Auchentoshan makes some sense to me as the sherry cask influence and the expressions of prunes, figs, and dried currants are consistent with that brand. I think the key word here is ‘young’. The whisky, I believe would benefit from a longer aging time to smooth out the rough edges.

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