Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML
Bottom shelf isn’t always bad. Certain whiskeys prove that statement – many refute it. Here in the good old U. S. of A., most of our bottom shelf whiskey is bourbon and other American varieties. Bottom shelf Scotch is rare, and typically finding a single malt for under $30 proves difficult. I have this strange fantasy that things are the exact opposite in Scotland – loads of poorly designed labels on cheap single malts, with only the best of the best when it comes to American whiskey.
McClelland’s is a brand that offers Highland, Lowland, Speyside, and Islay expressions, and are typically readily available. I’ve avoided them for several reasons – you tend to get what you pay for (rules are made to be broken), 80 proofers don’t usually do it for me, and I’ve never seen McClelland’s reviewed or even mentioned (are they worth mentioning?). For $25, I thought “why not?” and picked up a bottle.
The nose on McClelland’s Highland starts out malty, with notes of sourdough bread. There are some pears and apricots, and absolutely no smoke present whatsoever. A hint of rubbing alcohol shows up to add some bitterness. This nose is relatively straightforward and simple.
Once in the mouth, McClelland’s Highland has a thin mouthfeel at 40% ABV. Most of the interesting fruit aromas disappear on the tongue. There’s a touch of malt but again, it’s toned down. A little bit of mint shows up (basil leaves?). Certainly not terrible, but nothing too special either.
There’s more malt on the aftertaste, but not much more in this somewhat brief and mediocre finish.
Rating & Recommendations
I got just about what I expected out of McClelland’s Highland, which is why it still earns a respectable 77 out of 100 rating.
This is a decent Scotch for the price point; it just doesn’t quite stack up with other single malts. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.