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Murray McDavid are an independent bottler of Scotch whisky. They specialise in a creative approach, finishing their whisky in an array of casks and creating unique blends.
I recently received a pack of samples featuring some of their new releases. It contained samples from all six of their bottling categories. In this article I’ll be reviewing drams from their Select Grain, Crafted Blend and The Vatting ranges. For part 1 of my Murray McDavid 2021 releases review, click here.
Select Grain 10 year old Girvan
You’ll often hear people say that grain whisky only comes good at old age. There may well be an element of truth to that but the vast majority of those drams offer little in the way of variety. It’s refreshing therefore to see a younger bottling, given an intriguing finish in a 1st fill Koval Four Grain cask. Bottled at 46%. Retails for £42.00.
Smell: Buttered popcorn. Vanilla. Cereal. Digestive biscuits. Butterscotch. Toffee. Mixed peppercorns. Dark chocolate.
Taste: An arrival of toffee and caramel. Vanilla. Honey. Then some pepper and some rye-spice. Wheat flour. Oak. Pear drops.
Thoughts: The vast majority of independently bottled grain whiskies seem to be well past the 20-year mark. While it may be true that grain whisky is at its best when older, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that it can’t be enjoyed at other ages. Credit to Murray McDavid for putting out something that bucks the trend.
The dram is a lovely pale colour but it carries plenty of flavour. Koval’s Four Grain is distilled from a mashbill of oat, malted barley, rye and wheat and you get all those cereal notes in the dram. It works very well with Girvan’s spirit character.
It all makes for an interesting dram that offers the buyer something a bit unusual for a very affordable price.
The Vatting “The Speysiders” 11 year old
This 11 year old blended malt was matured first in bourbon barrels before finishing in Ximenez-Spinola PX casks. Bottled at 46%, it retails at £49.99.
Smell: The nose is a little bit raw at first. Maybe a bit sulphury. There’s also dried fruits and berry notes. Toffee too. Then there’s the malt with bready notes and breakfast cereal. Apple. Pear. Citrus.
Taste: Chocolate orange and caramel. Red berries. Raisins and sultanas. Walnut. Tobacco.
Thoughts: This one takes a while to settle down. I would definitely recommend a wee splash of water to open it up a little.
Once water has been added and allowed to mingle, the dram really comes into its own. It becomes creamier and that fiery sulphur morphs into silky smooth chocolate and coffee. Through it all it retains a nice malty backbone.
It’s an enjoyable whisky but perhaps takes some patience to get the best out of it. The end result is worth taking the time for though.
Crafted Blend 11 Year Old “Half ‘n’ half“
An 11 year old blended Scotch whisky featuring spirit from the Speyside and Lowland regions. It was first aged in a bourbon hogshead before finishing in a 1st fill beer hogshead. Bottled at 46% and retails at £42.00
Smell: A fresher nose this time. Lots of Speyside orchard fruits and malty notes. Lemon. Some gentle baking spices and yeasty bread.
Taste: Lots of malt and vanilla. Honey and caramel. Some green fruits. Nice bitter oak notes towards the back.
Thoughts: I liked this one. It has a pleasing simplicity to its flavour profile. For all their impressive creativity, writing notes for a set of Murray McDavid drams can be quite the assault on the senses. It was refreshing to end on this crisp, malty dram. It doesn’t lack for complexity but it in terms of flavour it plays things a bit safer than some of their other creations.
It has a definite beery quality and I suspect half the fun of owning a bottle would be in trying to find the perfect beer to pair with it. Personally, I think I’d start with a good quality pilsner and see where it took me.
Whisky isn’t just a drink, after all, it’s an experience. You don’t consume it, you live it. Fun and exploration and experimentation for £42 a bottle is an absolute steal.
For more on Murray McDavid visit here.