McClelland’s Highland Scotch – Review

McClelland's Highland ScotchMcClelland’s Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML

Distiller: T&A McClelland Limited



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.




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    • David Horne on May 21, 2016 at 11:35 am
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    I’ve been drinking single malts for a “few” years, I’m 68. I have progressed steadily through the full range: big, rich, fruity, complex, smokey, etc. I remember one Christmas my father-in-law and I sipped steadily on a bottle of 15 year old Laphroaig, she who must be obeyed was not pleased.. Now I drink a glass before dinner, that’s it. I enjoy light, not too fruity, a pleasant nose, no big finish, a few drops of water in it. I keep coming back to this bottle. It is light, not too fruity, definite balsam in the nose, a mild finish. Perfect for my one drink. If you want rich, big, complex, long finish, this aint it. But if you permit yourself one light drink an evening, this is an excellent value.

      • captain Bob on October 19, 2019 at 6:03 pm
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      I agree with you a bunch. My grand father MacRae started this delishous sipping whiskey evening’s when I was 21. I’m pushing 76 now . This McClelland’s Scotch Single Malt Highland whiskey has always been my go to brand. Thanks for sharing with us today. Proud to know you.

    • Phil on July 31, 2016 at 9:24 pm
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    I am confused. All single Malt 12 year is not the same? Really? There is a cheap version of that too? What gives>

    • Scotch and Irish whiskey lover on March 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm
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    This nonsense with you who are supposed connoisseurs of such scotches and Irish whiskeys give this insane rating accompanied by all this bs about the structure of complexity buried within the confines make me want to vomit. If it tastes good then drink it, the price matters not!

    1. I find it more nonsensical that you came to a whiskey reviews blog, and were shocked to read an opinion.



      • Joseph Chambers on December 26, 2017 at 5:27 pm
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      Raising a glass to you my good man. Here! Here!

      • George C Compton on March 9, 2018 at 10:18 am
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      It’s like I once told a friend of mine who asked what a good bottle of wine would be. I told him it was whatever bottle he liked and if he were extremely lucky, that would turn out to be 2 buck chuck. Lol

    • Juris Zagarins on April 7, 2017 at 11:53 pm
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    I have consumed large quantities of McClelland’s Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey over many years. It works.

      • Dave on September 2, 2017 at 8:31 pm
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      Dude, you sound like a guy a could party with!

      • Joe on September 25, 2017 at 11:35 pm
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      I agree!

    • George on October 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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    This comes from Glen Garioch, correct? NAS, though.

    • Richard on October 23, 2017 at 7:14 pm
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    Solidly I have been a Laphroaig man for the last five years. But let me tell you what. McClellands is damned decent single malt whiskey. I like the highland or the Islay, with my nod towards the Islay bottle. I don’t worry about the complexities, but do add a few drops of water to each crystal snifter. I learned to drink my Scotch this way from my internet acquaintances. Daddy was a moonshine man, God rest his soul. My tastes have evolved to the finer side of whiskey. All my ramblings aside, McClellands is my go to whiskey.

    I should not drink Scotch and post reviews, but rest assured. McClellands will do the job.

    • Henry on October 28, 2017 at 7:01 pm
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    Prior to trip Edinburgh Scotland I drank single malts, not Mccallum becauss I like a peaty taste. Laphroig is on side of too Peaty,

    Since taking a whisky tour and learning and tasting some fine blends I have broadened my taste buds.

    I think this McClellands is a fine whisky. Better than or just as good as many great blends. Scotch is whisky not whiskey and has great variety. So much variety so little time!

    • Britt L. Meininger on December 6, 2017 at 8:16 pm
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    I bought a handle for $35 which is but hard to be reckoned with. I have, say, a cup between various hot iterations with dry mint or cranberry during the fall which has resumed a single parenthood. It is sweet at the nose, with a strong wind of very real Scottish grain. Not something to take a million years with but to satisfy a very real taste of Scotch.

    • Wildman on July 11, 2018 at 9:45 am
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    First attempt at a single scratch and I am very pleased and impressed with the smoothness all I will do more experimenting but not sure why I would need to this is very satisfying especially for price.

    • Neil on August 10, 2018 at 1:11 am
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    Its an acceptable scotch for those of us on a budget. I’m in B.C and this bottle goes from $40 before tax and $47.50 with tax. Laphroaig starts at $80 and is over $90 after tax. Vancouver is one of the most expensive places to live today so this budget friendly scotch is a great value for me. A Lions Tail is a nice way to enjoy this affordable bottle. I hate wasting top shelf on a cocktail.

    • Bill on February 7, 2019 at 5:31 pm
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    Conflicting rumors about McClellands being discontinued or blended. My favorite Scotch. Any truth to the rumors?

    • BeckynotinBoerne on February 16, 2019 at 1:34 am
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    Out in the wilds of Colorado (bourbon and disgusting local whiskey country), I found one source for McClelland – and I’m buying it all so he’ll keep ordering it!
    As others said, it’s not a megabuck fancy whiskey, but for an on-ice drinker like me, it’s great.
    Left to myself , with enough money, I’d drink JW Black and Red, but my little Mac is a yummy alternative.

    • John O'brian on May 8, 2019 at 1:43 pm
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    I have been drinking Mclelland for a solid 10-12 years now, over ice in a nice rocks glass. I started with the blends and did enjoy JW Black for a bit but when I got a taste of this, it was all over but the crying. Problem is it’s hard to find in central NY. I have heard it’s part of a co-op and the store needs to join said co-op to carry it? There’s a place on my way home that i stop in once a week to re-load and it’s $48 and change with tax. That’s for a 1.75 liter, why would I pay $80 for something that I would consume in a few days? even less if I get company. I hope it is here to stay. That’s my two cents anyway.

      • William MacGregor on February 1, 2021 at 8:53 pm
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      If you ever find yourself in Oneonta the Liquor Depot carries it for $26

    • Phil on August 6, 2019 at 6:38 am
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    This is silly.. but in my opinion, this scotch tastes like shite. It turned me into a NEWT! Maybe I just got a bad bottle?

      • Ross on May 20, 2021 at 7:29 am
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      Not sure which one I had but it was hard to choke down. I even thought of putting the rest of my beer in it.

    • Steve on April 9, 2020 at 4:30 pm
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    Given the 3 choices offered from McClelland, I opted for the Highland Single Malt not knowing the differences between the three. The reason? Bob Dylan’s song on The Highlands. I’m not disappointed. It’s a very nice tasting and inexpensive single malt. Go for it.

    • Mary on July 4, 2020 at 10:32 pm
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    I find it delightfully smooth, personally.

    • Rens on August 6, 2020 at 7:10 pm
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    Just alcohol burn, no taste.

    • Christy In Texas on November 7, 2020 at 3:52 am
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    I have tried a few single malt scotch brands and I just keep coming back to McClelland’s. I like the flavor that isn’t too strong, but still lets you know it’s there. The aroma doesn’t burn the nostrils, which is another bonus. Mainly, it just really tastes good. I am able to order it online and have it sent to my home, which HUGE bonus!!!

    It’s my favorite, so the fact that a lot of other people don’t like it or aren’t aware of it works out great for me, because I don’t like to share!!! 🙂

    • Jen on January 30, 2021 at 2:19 am
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    I only just recently started enjoying scotch. I started with the Glenlevit and loved it. Thought I would try something else and so I got this. I agree with the fellow above who was turned into a newt. It tastes of shite. I’m not sure what to do with the rest of the bottle.

    • William MacGregor on February 1, 2021 at 8:49 pm
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    I used to drink Glenfiddich & Glenlivet, both in there 12 year versions regularly with an occasional older manifestation of either one. A few years ago I noticed the McClelland & gave it a try. I’ve been drinking it ever since.
    Recently someone gifted me a MACALLAN 15 year which I tried. There’s only a small dram gone & I’ll trade even up for a bottle of McClelland’s.
    I’ve tried all 4 versions & much prefer the Highland, where my roots lie.

      • Tim Robinson on May 11, 2021 at 1:01 pm
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      I ‘ll Trade that . I have just bought two bottles 0f McClellands and It seems to have changed flavors , like they added a smokey Peat blend to it.

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