Category Archives: McClellands

McClelland’s Islay Review

McClelland’s Islay033

40% abv

Score:  68/100


Hi there, Mr. Young-And-Feisty-B**more.  You’re not hiding behind that thin disguise.  We know who you are.  The whole charade is much like an accomplished author writing under a pseudonym in order to publish trashy romance novels on the side

I assume (rightly or wrongly) that the idea behind this whisky, and the others in the McClelland’s line, is to provide an affordable entry level single malt to the market, but one which can be churned out quickly and subject to nearly no scrutiny, due to its lack of any age statement or overt lineage declaration.  Not a bad idea really.  And there’s no denying others have succeeded using a very similar tack.

But here’s where I take exception to what is, in all concession, a rather noble and clever concept:  An entry level malt has to be enjoyable, otherwise it’s not only an ‘entry’, it’s also an ‘exit’.  If any of the expressions in the McClelland’s range were among the gateway malts I tasted as I was cutting my teeth, it’s highly possible I would have turned tail and run for a beer.  No kiddin’.

Put simply:  These are not good whiskies.  They’re actually not even average whiskies, if I’m to be dead honest.  They’re too young…too feinty…probably built from the distillery’s lesser casks not selected for better vattings…and I hate to say it, but poorly put together.

The sad irony with McClelland’s Islay (ignoring the rest of the range for a moment in favor of the one we’re actually reviewing) is that peat usually works very well when young.  That’s simply not the case here.  Again I’ll come back to the top-heavy feinty notes which throw this whisky into an off-kilter weeble.

In my local Canadian market this retails for about $35.  I recommend saving your allowance for an extra week or two and opting for a proper B**more.  Even the entry level B**more 12 year old will more than do the trick.

Nose:  Peat and smoke, of course.  And some farmy aromas.  Yeasty.  Alcohol/vodka notes and an untamed feinty-ness.  Barley and Realemon concentrate.  A candied sugary note…kinda overly sweet.  A little bit of currant and licorice.  Candy apple.

Palate:  Ouch.  Gave me a shiver (and not in the good way).  Like chewing malted barley.  Sharp alcohol bite…very astringent.  Tart (bitter, actually) fruit skins, more citrus and burnt coffee.  Needs many more years of hibernation before this would be properly drinkable.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

McClelland’s Lowland Review

McClelland’s Lowland

40% abv

Score:  62/100


Not only dull and flat, but actually unpleasant.

It is surprisingly difficult to write about bad whisky.  There is so much in a good scotch to admire and speak about…so many brilliant qualities to draw attention to.  Unfortunately…very few of those are to be found in this bottle.

I want to start out by saying that I truly appreciate what McClelland’s (owned by Morrison Bowmore) is trying to do here.  This series of bottlings are an attempt at creating an entry level line of whiskies, wherein each bottling represents a distinct scotch whisky producing region (Islay, Highland, Lowland, etc).  Though they haven’t necessarily failed in capturing some of the dominant characteristics of said regions, they have left out one important ingredient.  Quality.

There are some deep, dark unpleasant notes on the nose here.  Something bitterly floral/weedy and pungent.  Almost feinty.  It is razor-sharp and zesty, lacking any form of subtlety.  I get a touch of peppery something-or-other as well.  Nothing seems to work in harmony here.  A little time in the glass mellows the pungency a bit, but does nothing to address the off notes.

Tastewise…well…a little better, actually.  It has an alcoholic bite that affirms its youth, and delivers buckets of floral notes and bitter greens.  Still not good, but better than what you get with your nose in the glass.  From here, the finish is all heather and meadows, and thankfully short.

It is hard for me to say that, as for a whisky to earn high marks from me, it must have a long finish that doesn’t deliver sour notes at the end.

Unfortunately, not a lot to say on a positive front here.  Steer clear.

…and for those curious…if you care to know which distilleries are actually producing these young malts of the McClelland’s line…look no further than the stable of Suntory’s malts.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt