McClelland's was established in 1818 in Glasgow as a whisky blender and exporter. In 1970 it was purchased by Stanley P. Morrison, later to become Morrison Bowmore. They bottle a range of single malts under this brand, each one representing the four Scotch whisky regions (Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands and Islay). These bottlings were first launched in 1986, with the Speyside expression coming out in 1999. Apparently, McClelland's is the 4th best selling single malt in the US, behind Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and Macallan. The core bottlings have no age statement but there are also 12 year old expressions from each region.
Since the owner of the brand is Morrison Bowmore, one can guess which single malts make up the Highland (Glen Garioch?), Lowland (Auchentoshan?) and Islay (Bowmore?) bottlings. But Morrison Bowmore does not own a Speyside distillery - wonder what it is? Any guesses?
The colour is a light-to-medium honey. The nose also features a lot of honey, and is also very malty and quite floral, with pine and some dark chocolate. Herbal, primarily mint. A bit of a generic Speyside nose, but quite nice regardless. Water does very little.
The palate is sweet and fruity, slightly balsamic, with freshly cut grass and very light milk chocolate. A bit of hazelnut - gives a very slight hint of Nutella. Nondescript, really. Again, water doesn't do much to the flavour profile one way or the other.
The finish is very fuzzy and not well balanced, with some sulphur coming forward with a clumsy mix of floral and chocolatey notes. Not a great dram, not a terrible one either - but I can't really recommend it. This brand is clearly meant to be a gateway to single malts, but if I were to suggest a Speysider to a novice, it wouldn't be this one. Not that it's bad, it's just very generic most of the way until, on the finish, it pretty much falls apart. So why do I have a bottle? Because it's my girlfriend's favourite scotch! She especially likes making Rusty Nails with it. So I wouldn't dream of not having a bottle for her in the house. To each her own! Oh, and by the way, my guess on the distillery? I'm going to say Macallan (not because I dislike the distillery, I love it - but this does have notes that remind me of it, despite being substandard). Let me know if you have any other guesses (or if you happen to know!)