On the 26th April, Graeme MacKay from Morrison & MacKay travelled over 250 miles to host a tasting for The Southport Whisky Club in Remedy, Churchtown. It was a great night with good a range of drams, some of which had only just been released in the last few months meaning it was the first time Graeme had been able to share them at a tasting.
Morrison and Mackay are independent bottlers and one of the few remnant whisky companies in the Perth area. With three generations of experience in Scotch Whisky and a passion for their national drink, they produce a number of blended whisky brands and liqueurs alongside individual bottlings. If you want to know more about the interesting history of the company, then have a read of this article by scotchwhisky.com
Down to the Whisky Business
First in the line-up was a 7-year-old Glencadam (46%), matured in ex-Bourbon casks with 638 bottles produced from the two casks. It’s very honest what they are doing with the strictly limited range, it’s all non-chill filtered, no added colouring and small batches – not just some marketing ploy as can sometimes be the case. This dram was really nice, it’s light and fruity; rather summery yet it still has an oily texture and isn’t thin. This one was a really good choice for a starting dram!
Second up was the 9-year-old Miltonduff (46%), distilled in 2009 and matured in Bourbon barrels resulting in 656 bottles from the two casks which were bottled a little over a month ago. This dram stepped it up a little bit from the first, it was oilier, creamy and a bit spicier than the first. It had a much longer finish with a higher intensity.
Graeme fielded responses for who’s heard of Miltonduff before, with only a few hands going up… even fewer hands went up when asking who’s tried whisky from Miltonduff before. He explained that under the ownership of Chivas Brothers, a lot of the production goes into Ballantine’s, so probably along the way, most of us would’ve had some.
Next up, was a fantastic 8-year-old Speyside, Sherry Butt from BenRiach (46%). BenRiach is part of the family of distilleries (Glendronach and Glenglassaugh) which are now owned by Brown-Forman (the people who make Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve).
BenRiach is another distillery that’s had an interesting history of buyers and closures, but come through the other side to remain open, active and producing great spirit once again. Only three drams in and already I’d found my favourite.
After a short break, Graeme kicked off the second half, this time leading with the oldest dram of the night; a 1988 – 31-year-old North British. This time, not a malt, but a grain whisky, single cask (Sherry Puncheon). This one was cask strength (stepping up the ABV game at 49.6%) and part of the “Celebration of the Cask” range with only 285 bottles produced.
Grain Whisky is something I’ve not had a lot of exposure to, but as I try it more and more, I’m starting to appreciate the complexity and differences compared to malt. I think my problem with Grain is that I’ve never given it enough time.
Graeme summed it up pretty well for me, he described grain whisky as:
The natural bridge between American whisky and Scotch whisky
As we reached that point of the night where every dram becomes the “favourite”, what we were about to try, was to be my overall favourite of the night. Dram number 5 – Old Perth – Morrison and Mackay’s resurrection and nod to the early 1900’s whisky which was originally made by the Thomson family. Resurrected by Morrison and MacKay in the form of a blended malt in 2013 as a celebration of Perth’s illustrious past in the whisky industry, the brand is now the only whisky now blended in Perthshire.
This 23-year-old spirit (44.9%), distilled just two years after my birth in 1994 was vatted together with other malts to create a confusingly named “blended malt”… confusing because a blended malt does not contain grain, unlike a “blend” where grain can be present.
For me, this dram really took the lead, despite looking really dark in the glass, it is all naturally coloured. I think what I liked the most, is how the risk of blending several malts and sitting them down for 23 years in a cask really paid off, resulting in great waves of sherry and mature oak on the palate.
The final dram of the night was a peated expression called “Big Strand”. It’s a single malt Scotch whisky from an undisclosed distillery on Islay and was named after the long sandy beach way out west on the Isle of Islay.
Behind all the smoke is a super sweet flavour with a hint of fruit, carried nicely at 46% ABV and said to be made up of 2010-11 refill bourbon casks. As with the rest of the whiskies we tried, it’s non-chill filtered with no added colours… another good honest spirit without any pretentious or misleading marketing.
The Càrn Mòr range and the rest of the Morrison MacKay bottlings for that matter are all, good, honest drams with sensible pricing. They’re a great way to explore brilliant whisky without fixating on a particular brand or region and I’d definitely recommend that everybody try them.
All in all, another great night at The Southport Whisky Club. Big thanks, as always to Victor for organising the event and to Graeme for the great whisky and for taking the time to come and share it with us all.