Whisky Connosr

McClelland's Islay Single Malt

Cheap peat

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@NockReview by @Nock

18th Oct 2013


McClelland's Islay Single Malt
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The story goes that this is very young Bowmore. And it shows. Still, not a horrible choice for a budget peat fix . . .

Nose: Peat and peat. Peat the color of Yellow. That is to say, if the peat were in a color spectrum it would fall into the yellow area. Just a hint of earth and a whisper of the ocean behind the peat. A bit of hay and grass also behind the peat. Now, don’t hear me wrong: this is not peat overload like Supernova. Rather, this is a resounding one sold note (with two minor notes in the background) tone of peat. With time more malt come out. Now it is basically two notes: peat and malt. But with more time the peat recedes to the background and you are left with simply malt. Now some apple notes are coming out with a touch of honey and lemon grass. Nice, austere and simple while still evolving. My only complaint is that the peat starts out strong and then disappears.

Taste: Fruity on the tip: apple, pear, peach. Then some spice, fire, with sharp mustard and horseradish type flavors (but they only last for a moment). Now oak and a little smoke. Over all pleasant, sweet with a balance of bitterness.

Finish: Fire, smoke a nice dollop of peat fire coat the mouth. Not a huge explosion. More like lava or magma oozing down into the floor below your room. You are left with a nice struggle for air and the salty remnants of a peat fire.

Complexity, Balance: There is a complexity to this cheap no-name Islay single malt . . . considering. I will give it points for presenting several flavors and not being a one or two note chord. However, it is more like a fireworks display where once the rocket goes off it is finished.

Aesthetic experience: I dislike this bottle (which is why I put it into my decanter). It does remind me of the old Bowmore labeling. Hate the name, the label, the 40%, the use of E-150a, and the chill filtration. The only things I like about this bottle are that there is peat, it is a standard shape, and it is cheap.

Conclusion: For a while this was a standard in my open cabinet. However, of late I enjoy mixing my own peaty blend (Old Bastard Reserve). Next time I find it under $20 I’ll pick it up again.

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Ol_Jas commented

Nice, fair review of this often-slammed bottle

I cut my teeth on a few bottles of this, but I haven't had it in a couple years. I admit that I've considered myself "graduated" past it and my last few peaties have been Laphroaig CS, Ardbeg Oogie & Corryreckan, Ardmore TC, and Longrow CV. I just bought another bottle of the McClelland's, though, after spotting it for the ridiculous clearance price of $13. At some point, I intend to administer a blind tasting to myself of this plus a couple lower-powered peaties (probably Longrow CV and Caol Ila 12) to test whether I really find the "better" bottles to be better.

My sense of pride is rooting for me to discern the inferiority of the McClellands's. My wallet is rooting for it to compare favorably. We'll see!

10 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

This one is great for vattings. I vatted mine with Isle of Skye 12. It vatted up handsomely and my guests who aren't whisky Connors like it very much, with or without ice. The McClellands was $22 and the Isle of Skye $20. That's a lot of tasty whisky when they are married together into a vatting. By themselves, I found the McClellands to be a bit weak. Together: heavenly. The IOS filled in the weak notes and the Mc's added a nice level of peat to the mix. I hear the Legend Bowmore is much stronger than this one. I don't doubt it. This one seemed more watered down than 40% to my taste. It seemed quite weak for 40% to me.

10 years ago 0

Nock commented

Very interesting suggestion @rigmorole, thanks. I have used my McClellands to bump up my Bastard Blend bottle in the past. However, I just opened a bottle of Isle of Skye 8yo. I will see what the two are like together.

10 years ago 0