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Where it came from no one knows, but suddenly it was there. John McCrae’s co. single malt whiskies. Named in honour of the famous Canadian wartime poet, who wrote the famous ‘In Flanders Fields’ a century ago? That could well be the case, as it was exclusively bottled for the Belgian Market during the centennial of the Great War. Maybe it is just a coincidence, with any further references to the war lacking and the more traditional style of the label it might just have been an attempt to give a ‘Scottish’ ring to the brand. But as always, it’s not the packaging that counts, but its contents. Otherwise this would have been another Highland Park review.
Description: distilled in 1992, matured for 22 years in bourbon hogshead, bottled in 2014 at 53.9% ABV.
Nose: opens up with soft medicinal peat smoke (are you sure we’re not in a different part of Islay?) strong menthol of fisherman’s friend lozenges, eucalyptus oil, a rich touch of vanilla, citrus, bacon and wood fire cinders.
Mouth: smoother than expected, slightly bitter even. Dominant notes of citrus, vanilla and salty chocolate on the palate.
Finish: medium long but pleasantly warming, salt and smoke.
Verdict: here I was, expecting a rougher cask strength Caol Ila. To my surprise I got a blend of house style Laphroaig and Bowmore. Medicinal peat and salty bacon go hand in hand in this fairly docile whsiky.