Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon First Fill, ex-Sherry and ex-Pedro Ximénez
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Aceo Ltd.
Average price: € 85.00
Official website: www.murray-mcdavid.com
When former Springbank director Gordon Wright decided to strike out on his own in 1996, with partners Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin, Murray McDavid was born: a Scottish bottler with very clear ideas about the importance of maturation in whisky.
Four years later they also bought the then-closed Bruichladdich, restarting production, and things went so well that in 2012 both were acquired by Rémy Cointreau.
The following year, the French giant sold Murray McDavid to another retail bigwig, ACEO, a family-run business that mainly produces whiskies for the mass retailers (the whiskies you find at LIDL, for example).
Maintaining the emphasis on the importance of casks (creating the acronym ACE, Additional Cask Enhancement, the improvement achieved by finishing in different casks), Murray McDavid now offers several lines ranging from single malts to blends to single casks.
The lines are:
– Mission Gold (single cask malts with significant vintage);
– Benchmark (single malt);
– Mystery Malt (as the name suggests, whiskies from undeclared distilleries);
– Select Grain (single grain);
– The Vatting (blend of single malts, often from the same region);
– Crafted Blend (blend of single malt and single grain).
Interestingly, the company has a boat docked in Glasgow, which offers tasting sessions sailing along the west coast of Scotland.
Today’s bottle is from the Crafted Blend label, a 50% malt and 50% grain blended, made up of a young Caol Ila (which gives the age stated at bottling), Peatside (another Murray McDavid malt blended) and North British, the grain component of the blend, aged 29 years.
The mix looks very interesting on paper, especially considering how much I enjoyed the slightly older North British a while ago.
Full gold in the glass.
The peat emerges energetically on the nose in its iodine and fleshy soul, tamed however by sweeter and spicier characters of mustard, burnt caramel, sour cherries, blood orange, ginger biscuits, strudel. Very full-bodied and intense, almost chewy, with a nice balance between the different personalities. With time, the sweet flavours become more caramelised, like roasted cane sugar.
It’s also solid on the palate, oily and full, with lively spicy notes that vibrate as you drink it (ginger, cinnamon, a touch of chilli) over hints of liquorice, dark chocolate, prunes, toasted almonds and Catalan cream. The peat acts as a warm blanket with a nice salty component of sea and barbecue that amalgamates the aromas. Slight roughness of leather in the background.
Long, salty finish of ash, liquorice, dried fruit, caramel, leather.
If anyone still believes that blends are the children of a lesser god of whisky, they definitely would change their minds with this little jewel: rich, intense and with unexpected variations, it never settles for compromising tones and always keeps the attention high.