It’s interesting looking back at my reviews, what I’d change, what I wouldn’t
In the past few weeks there have been very vocal comments from whisky nerds on the Scotch subreddit. This is a sign of the subreddit growing, and if I’m being blunt it’s always been there.
The old bogeyman of scores and what is the best way (and how people typically review only things they like) showed up, which always leads me to wonder if, as a young reviewer, I should have kept to lower scores to make it make sense through a bell curve. That’s nothing new. Oh, and the odd person saying that recommendations based on elements of what makes a good whisky shouldn’t be shared, because… reasons I guess? I think I was called an elitist hipster at some point for liking whisky, researching, and writing these, so I guess I lost a reader.
The one thing I wish I could change, and we’re well past the point I can, is making a difference between a blended whisky and a blended malt. Due to marketing, the term “blended malt” was wrapped up into blends and I lumped them together. Like a lot of people, I originally tried blended whisky that had young grain whisky in it. And while I know it’s triggering for some people to mention it, young grain doesn’t develop the depth of flavours that young malt can.
I hope you’re able to take that in stride.
Thus when I started actually reviewing Blended Malts, as in no single grain whisky used, and started to enjoy them. Then I wrote reviews, and lumped them all together under the term “blend”.
Enter Morrison & McKay, formerly Morrison Blenders, an old blending company in the city of Perth. Perth itself used to be the home of Scotch blending. Thus the name “Old Perth”, a line of blended whiskies that I’ve totally missed because my local monopoly has decided that they need not be sold here. Thank you for treating me like an adult Ontario: It’s great here, really.
Thus when I was offered two samples to catch up, I went for it.
Up first we have one of the Cask Strength versions, however this time it’s aged in oak followed by a red wine finish. One source states that it’s a mix of Ben Nevis, Mortlach, Tomatin, and Aultmore: All distilleries that I’ve enjoyed separately: Will they work together? Let’s see, shall we?
Old Perth Cask Strength Red Wine Finish No. 2 Limited Edition
Price: € 45
Region: Blend (Blended Malt)
Colour: 5Y 9/8
Nose: Apple, mineral, cloves, red grapes
Strong fruit notes, mostly just fruit, spice, and mineral. Nothing screams red wine. Well I guess growing up screaming red wine meant one of the stay-at-home suburbia moms has let loose, so perhaps my tolerance is a tad high.
Water, time, and you end up with strong grape notes. Which is odd, because anyone who has ever had wine will tell you it’s not grape heavy, but here we are.
Taste: Green grape, cinnamon, caramel, cooked apples
Fruity, spice, and now the red wine takes over. There’s still elements telling you it’s whisky, which astute readers will note as one of my biases, because I like to drink whisky, not other things (well I love water and coffee and don’t mind the odd stout or porter too).
Spice, fruity, bit sweet. Drinks way too easily. Simpler flavours, but nothing too rough.
Finish: Cloves, yeast, apple, mud
Interesting finish. It’s like someone was trying to do the finish of a charmat method sparkling wine, but then threw some mud in your eye because in my mind Tobey Maguire blended it.
Not gonna lie: Lots of earth going on here and the finish isn’t too complex. Feels half done. The amount of flavours are off. No tasty great. I don’t know if people understand how whisky reviews work anymore, so I’m attempting to over explain because the world is getting dumber because of anti-intellectualism.
Conclusion: Wine dominant, rough dram that has interesting flavours. Are you going to buy this and never buy another blend again? No, but you are going to enjoy it for what it is, and for what we need more of: Decent enough blended whiskies that are good to drink.
Is it as cheap as Johnnie Walker Red? No (and just saying this now, I don’t include price in reviews), but it’s also not a drain pour like current Red. It’s fruity, sweet, and has a rough finish. If you’re jonesing for something in a wine cask? Easy buy. If you’re looking for a cask strength whisky to have daily? Easy buy.
Old Perth 23 1994 is a blended whisky that is (supposedly) mainly made up of sherry cask Macallan. Is it teaspooned? No word, some have said yes, others have said no, no one officially has stated it, so it’s all hearsay. Which means who cares.
Thus we have a vintage version of a blended malt that was aged in Sherry casks, laid down in 1994 and then bottled in 2018. Nothing else. Nothing saying it’s undisclosed or a silly name to hint that it was teaspooned or anything like that. I could mention that in the last 6 years we’ve seen more “undisclosed Speysides” popping up, and the rumour was that Macallan had to clean house, but again, no official notes.
I’m open to it, let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Region: Blend (Blended Malt)
Cask type: Sherry Cask
Number of bottles: 515
Colour: 7.5YR 4/6
Nose: Dates, grape juice, banana bread, coffee, cola
Alright, I believe the people who say it’s mostly Macallan. Dates, coffee, and cola are strong on the nose here. If I hadn’t recently had another cask strength Macallan I wouldn’t be able to make the connection, what with having the memory for distillery profiles comparable to a chinchilla with head damage.
Taste: Lemon/lime, peanut, molasses, raisin, grape
Nice acidity, some sherry notes, and more sherry notes. So I agree, it’s probably Macallan. But it’s Macallan away from Macallan with some other stuff in there, so it’s not as Macallan as the Macallan you’re used to.
That was all a joke: It’s somewhere between the sherry whiskies that were around about 8-9 years ago and current sherry whiskies that are drenched in wet casks that only vaguely seem to be whisky. So nice.
Finish: Leather, plantain, raisin, black licorice, ginger, nutty
Alright, fuck everything else I wrote: This finish is where this whisky wakes you up, slaps your partner, and hands you everything you’d want. I get why they bottled this. I don’t care where it’s from: This is nice.
A while back I wrote about a variety of blended malts that were released with the name “XO Blended Malt”: This finish reminds me exactly of those, if not totally put together. Like they had an idea, they had part of one of those old casks, and they did their best.
Conclusion: Decent profile, did what they needed to make it work. It’s far from perfect, and if you can somehow find one of the original XOs or even one of the ones that came out once people figured out how tasty they were, buy it instead.
But you probably can’t. I knew a lot of whisky nerds who drank it like it cured liver failure. You may have missed the sheer amount of independently bottled Macallans that popped up recently. This will be that too. It’s still out there, the price isn’t too crazy for what it is: Lots of dates, good balanced sherry, some funk, and some spice.
I don’t think it’s beating any of those out. But they are gone. This is left. It’s a good whisky, it’s a good sherry cask, and it was tasty. It’s beating out a lot of the wetter sherry “whiskies” that keep coming out, thus they charge more. Or it’s actually Macallan and they charged more because it was that or slap some red and gold on it and release it for Lunar New Year for a ton of money. Your call.
Scotch review #1494-95, Blend review #129-130, Whisky Network review #2199-2200