Showing posts with label blended Scotch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blended Scotch. Show all posts

Monday, August 15, 2022

Harleston Green Blended Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


The opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf is one I take seriously. When I first became a fan of whisky, I was anything but wealthy (I’m still not). I had no idea what I was doing, just that I didn’t want to spend gobs of money on something that was going to be questionable. I invested in whiskies that were generally under $30.00. As my palate matured, I never left my quest to find gems that many would overlook due to price.

 

Something else I always appreciate is transparency. That’s becoming more common for American whiskeys, but things are less so outside the country. Imagine my shock when a bottle of Harleston Green blended Scotch whisky showed up, and while inspecting the bottle, I saw “Distilled and Bottled by Loch Lomond Distillery” on the back label.

 

Harleston Green isn’t a green whisky (thank goodness!). The origin of Harleston Green is it was the first golf course established in America.

 

“In 1786, a group of Scottish merchants absconded with two of European high society’s most treasured pleasures, golf and Scotch, and brought them together at Harleston Green in Charleston, South Carolina for all people to enjoy. We’d nominate those merchants for sainthood if it didn’t risk getting in the way of their drinking and carousing.” – Harleston Green

 

Composed of three, four, and five-year-old whiskies from the Highland, Lowland, Speyside, and Campbelltown regions, Harleston Green is bottled at 40% ABV (90°) and is quite affordable at $24.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Some of you may find it hard to swallow the notion that a three-year Scotch at this pricepoint will be even remotely good. The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get at it. But, before I do, I must thank Harleston Green for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, when poured neat, this Scotch was the color of honey. It formed a thicker rim, something not surprising for a low-proofed whisky, and wild, long legs that crashed back to the pool.

 

Nose: A puff of smoke was the first thing I smelled. Beneath that were dried apricot, peach, honey, nut, and English toffee. Vanilla was hidden underneath. When I drew that air into my mouth, honey rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  A creamy, medium-bodied texture introduced itself, offering honey, vanilla, and citrus on the front of my palate. Midway through, I tasted nutmeg, green peppercorn, and apple, while the back featured smoke, cinnamon, and roasted almond.

 

Finish:  The smoke carried all the way through. I need to make it clear that it was far from overpowering. It didn’t taste like peat. It didn’t dry my mouth. It was merely a flavor. Apple strudel and almond hung around, making for a surprisingly long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The first thing I’ll say is I’ve shared this Scotch with a few friends, one of whom is a well-known distiller. The consensus was it was pretty damned good, especially for a young whisky. I was well-blended, and while there is a smoky quality to it, it would not turn off those who dislike peat (or who are newbies).  Harleston Green is a great Scotch to explore if you’re new and curious. Harleston Green is a tasty gem for those who are more experienced. I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy this one, as such it earns its Bottle rating. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Friday, August 5, 2022

Cluny Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


When Dad passed away in June, I was charged with going through some boxes in his office. There were boxes and boxes of old photos, books, client files, financial statements, etc. But, there were also three boxes tucked away in the back. I opened them, and lo and behold; they contained booze. Much of what was there was wine, but there were a few bottles of gin and a few of whisky.

 

Dad was not a whisky drinker. He was into gin, wine, and beer. I tried for several years to talk to him about whisky, which he found interesting, but had no desire to drink it. I think it is safe to assume the whisky I found was for friends who may have wanted a pour. It is funny, though, that he never offered me one. Of course, his dementia may not have allowed him to remember he had any on hand in the last several years.

 

One of the bottles I came across was Cluny. It was interesting because it was a fairly nondescript label, and I’d never heard of it. I knew it couldn’t have been too old; it had a UPC label on the necker and a laser code on the bottom that suggested it may have been bottled in January 2007.

 

I spent some time researching this whisky and became even more curious. I saw this statement repeatedly, obviously written by marketers:

 

“Cluny Scotch Whisky is one of America's top-selling domestically bottled blended Scotches, made up of a marriage of over 30 malt whiskies from all regions of Scotland and the finest aged grain whiskies. Cluny's high malt whisky content gives it a richer flavor and superior taste to like-priced competitors, making it one of the best overall values in the Scotch category today.”

 

Cluny has been around since 1857, or roughly 165 years. And according to the quote above, it is one of America’s top-selling blended Scotches. So, why am I finding little-to-no information online about it?

 

I can verify that Cluny is still in production, as a variety of websites offer it for sale for around $11.99 for a 1000mL bottle. I confirmed with a friend who owns one of Wisconsin’s largest liquor stores that while he’s never heard of Cluny (I’m asking this a second time:  Isn’t this supposed to be one of the top-selling blended Scotches in the country?), he can order it.

 

The brand is owned exclusively by John E. McPherson & Sons; however, in their most recent filing with UK authorities, it had assets of 1 GBP. The label stated it was imported and bottled by Premium Imports out of Bardstown. That’s a subsidiary of Heaven Hill, but Cluny is not listed as one of its brands. Liquor brands are bought, sold, and traded all the time, so someone else may have it.

 

The one thing that left me dumbfounded, however, was the lack of reviews. That forces me to inquire a third time: Isn’t this supposed to be one of the top-selling blended Scotches in the country? Indeed, if it is that high-profile, there would be many reviews, right?

 

“Legend has it that the wild cat was the totem of tribes who settled the north of Scotland from Europe. These ‘cat people’ later became the Clan Macpherson, whose crest shows a seated wild cat, its claws extended. The motto ‘Touch Not The Cat Bot A Glove’ means do not touch an ungloved cat, an apt slogan for a fearless clan.

 

A Scotch worthy of its heritage, Cluny epitomizes the proud Scottish tradition of high quality and distinctive taste. Artfully distilled, aged for thirty-six months, and blended skillfully of the highest-caliber malts and grains.” – Cluny Scotch (from the back label)

 

I do love a good mystery, and this one has me stymied. The only things left to tell you are it is packaged at 40% ABV (80°), and, per the label, in 1895 and 1899, it won gold medals in some competitions that my old eyes can’t make out. I’m not sure those medals are something I’d brag about, but let’s get this #DrinkCurious thing done and hammer out a review.

 

Appearance: As a neat pour, this Scotch presented as brassy. I’m assuming there is e150A involved in enhancing its color. A bold rim formed on the wall, releasing fat, wavy tears that fell back into the pool.

 

Nose:  A sweet aroma escaped the neck of the glass, smelling of honey, apple, and nutmeg. Taking the air into my mouth, I experienced vanilla.

 

Palate:  A watery texture greeted my tongue. There was a blend of dried apricot and golden raisin on the front, with vanilla controlling the middle. The back tasted of honey and nutmeg.

 

Finish:  Cinnamon and toasted oak remained in my mouth, with something medicinal (not astringent) as the other two flavors faded.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cluny is an unremarkable whisky, which probably helps explain its longevity. It isn’t bad, but there’s also nothing memorable about it. I can’t say I’ve had a better $12.00 Scotch, but I also can’t say that, until now, I’ve ever had a $12.00 Scotch. I could see this being an attractive rail pour at a Bar, which is what I’ve rated it. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.