We hit Scotland last August. It nearly halted our seven month, thirteen country, EU Austerity Drinking Tour. We so fell in love with its people, countryside, and Whisky that we nearly stayed. We imagined ourselves William Wallace, Robbie Burns, Mary Queen of Scots, or that princess from Brave, with every castle tour, every distillery visit, and every haggis eaten.
But back in the United States, nostalgia ate us. Local distilleries proffered harsh, young spirit: too hot and tight to be enjoyed alone.
But then we found a bottle of Pig’s Nose, Blended Scotch Whisky, Aged 5 Years, from Scotland for under $30.
Now, Whisky fanatics will tell you to sell your second child into slavery for Single Malt Whisky. We typically agree (click and read our Macallan 10, Glendronach, and Laphroaig posts). Like Estate Produced wine, Single Malts come from one distillery. This implies a whole range of site-specific (i.e. micro-terroir) variations that make each Single Malt unique.
However, stateside, any decent Single Malt will ravage $50 and up from your wallet.
Blended Whiskies, like tonight’s, are cheaper because they blend many distilleries together. They also stretch product with hefty additions of cheap, young, grain spirit (vodka), caramel colorings, and worrisome chemicals. Most are horrid.
Pig’s Nose provides a middle path.
Richard Patterson, Scotland’s only third generation Master Blender, took Invergordon grain spirit (Scotland’s highest quality and lightest grain spirit) and aged it over five years in new barrels. This oxidative time massaged harsh esters, while adding color and spiced complexity.
But that’s half the dram. Unlike most blendeds, 43% of Pig’s Nose comes from Single Malts from Scotland’s three famed Whiskey regions: Speyside, Islay, and the Lowlands. These hefty chunks of proper Whisky melded with the grain spirit during its five-year barrel journey.
Enough background. How is it?
Clear, bright, amber grain gold.
Medium intense honey, sherry cask crème brûleé, malt, clover, salt, and nose-curling fire.
Soft, round cotton ball texture, minor tannin, and a medium body, lead to moderate yet complex flavors of baking vanilla powder, apricot, crème brûleé, and honey, with a clear note of salt, like briny mussels, and hot ash that tightens the decently long finish.
Like our five year marriage, the sum is better than its parts. Amongst all spirits, Pig’s Nose is good quality (3 out of 5). For under $30, it provides a consistent, decently complex spirit to cap your evenings.
- Whisky Wars: Single Malt Battle with Blended Scotch Rages – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Whisky investment: Can the Scotch boom continue? (theweek.co.uk)
- Malts vs Blends (thedrinksbusiness.com)
- Scotch whisky (drinksofworld.wordpress.com)