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McClelland’s Speyside Single Malt Whisky

Review: McClelland’s Speyside Malt Whisky  72/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 12, 2010

The McClelland’s Speyside Single Malt Whisky is distilled and constructed to be associated with a particular Scottish whisky region.  The Brand is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers and this whisky in their McClelland’s  line up is distilled in the region for which it is named, Speyside.

I found the McClelland’s Single Malt Speyside to be an accurate expression of a typical Speyside whisky.  It has a typical Speyside character with a spicy yet floral palate very typical of the Speyside whiskies I have tried in the past.

In the Bottle 5/5

All of the McClelland’s Single Malt whiskies come in attractive cardboard canisters.   The containers 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. Solid cork toppers crown the presentation.  I have absolutely no complaint with the whisky presentation in the bottle.

In The Glass 8/10

The whisky is somewhat of a medium orange/gold colour in the glass.   When I swirl the glass I notice only a light oil and very skinny legs on the sides of the glass.  I receive distinct floral notes combined with honey and oak spices.  A vague anise licorice and a hint of cocoa lie behind the floral tone, and if the glass is left to sit, the aroma of oak tannin becomes stronger in the glass.

In the Mouth 42/60

I can immediately recognize the Speyside style, with spicy oak  mixed with caramel and vanilla.  Unfortunately a distinct bitterness arrives in the mouth as well.  Flavours of cocoa  and a dark leathery burnt oak tannin seem to be prevalent in this bitterness.  I taste an oily smoke and dried fruit which vainly try to bind the bitter with the sweet, but it is a failed attempt.  If the bitter and the sweet were combined more effectively this could be an absolute treat. But the two flavour streams seem to stand apart.

Like the previously reviewed McClelland’s  Highland Malt,  I find the regional flavour profile and the Speyside style is very well represented, but the artistry in combining the flavours into more than they would be alone is absent.  Vegetals, fruits, floral character, and oak spiciness all are all present,  but these seem diminished rather than enhanced in the whisky.

In My Throat 10/15

The finish is a little oily and has a nice length.  However, it is a harsh medicinal finish that leaves bitterness in the mouth and throat.

The Afterburn  7/10

If you are looking to taste a good example of Speyside style, then this whisky is adequate for that purpose.  However,  just as with the McClelland’s Highland Single malt I reviewed earlier,  I sense that the blender was more concerned with constructing the regional flavour profile of the whisky, rather than with the artistry of making whisky.

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


Suggested Cocktail

In an effort to bring beauty and art to the Speyside expression of McClelland’s whisky, I have decide to construct a softer more feminine cocktail.  My first choice in this regard is an old classic called  Polly’s Cocktail.

Polly’s Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Scotch
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz orange Curacao

Mix all the ingredients with a metal shaker and strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of Lemon or Lime

This is very nice to sip before or after dinner.
To provide something a little  more original I decided to shake up this classic recipe a bite and make a drink I call The Crushed Polly.

The Crushed Polly
1 1/2 oz Speyside Scotch
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz orange curacao
dash of Grenadine for colour
2 large cubes of ice

Mix in a blender until smooth(ish)
Garnish  with a slice or wedge of  lemon or  lime

Definitely a sipping cocktail for a hot summer day!
I should point out that both of these cocktails taste great with Canadian Whisky or Bourbon!


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)


One Response to “McClelland’s Speyside Single Malt Whisky”

  1. Rob said

    I think you gave this a very fair review. I was reluctant to try it because of the relatively low price compared to your typical Single Malt Scotch. I bought the large, 1.75 Liter for $37.00. This is a great compromise for those who want to enjoy single malt scotch on a daily basis without paying the hefty price tag of say, Glenlivet. It is priced similar to Lismore which I also found pretty decent for the price. Bargain priced Single Malt. My taste impressions were very similar to yours. Best way to tame that bitterness: Shake with water and ice and pour straight up in a martini glass. Makes an excellent Rob Roy without the vermouth or bitters. Add a cherry to tame things a bit more.

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