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Sheep Dip is a bizarrely-named blended malt whisky. It was first bottled in 1974 as an in-house whisky by a publican in Oldbury-on-Severn. It’s claimed that the name is what farmers used to write on their invoices to explain money they’d received from selling whisky. I’m not convinced that story holds up to much scrutiny but we’ll go with it anyway. As the popularity of the whisky grew among locals, the publican was encouraged to expand. Soon, MJ Dowdeswell & Co Ltd were supplying the likes of Fortnum & Mason and sending their product to international markets, including the US & Canada.
The Original Oldbury Sheep Dip carried an 8-year-old age statement. It was made from 16 malts sourced from the Highlands and Speyside. The modern version is said to be made from the same recipe though it no longer carries an age statement. Claims have been made, however, that some of the whiskies in the recipe are 20-years-old.
The success of the brand eventually brought interest from Scotland and Sheep Dip was soon snapped up by Invergordon Distillers. Later, Invergordon became part of Whyte & Mackay, bringing Sheep Dip under the care of the famous Glasgow-based blender. At that time, Whyte & Mackays Chief Operating Officer was a man named Alex Nicol. When Nicol decided to go it alone, he founded the Fife-based Spencerfield Spirits and persuaded Whyte & Mackay to sell him the Sheep Dip brand, along with sister label Pig’s Nose. They agreed.
Spencerfield went on to establish the Edinburgh Gin brand before being purchased in 2016 by Ian Macleod Distillers. That acquisition brought Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose into the same stable as Glengoyne, Tamdhu, Rosebank, Isle of Skye, Islay Mist and Smokehead.
*Full disclosure: this sample was inside an Advent Calendar I was sent for free. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
Sheep Dip is a blended malt which means its made by combining multiple single malts from different distilleries. It’s bottled at 40% abv and retails around £30.
Smell: Fresh apples. Pears. Orange and lemon zest. Heather honey. There’s a yeasty bread note and the aromas of woodwork – freshly sawn oak and sawdust. Cereals and muesli.
Taste: Honeyed apple arrival. Develops a little peppery spice with some sea salt. Maybe even a slight briney note. Just before the finish there’s a return of the bready note and then a dry, tangy oak finish.
Thoughts: It’s not the most complex dram I’ve ever come across and its character isn’t particularly unique but it is quite fully flavoured and there’s a pleasant weight on the palate. It’s bottled at a lowly 40% and the slightly fluorescent hue suggests the use of artificial colouring but I’m not sure that matters in this price range. If you’re after a daily sipper, you could do a lot worse.
Value for money: Speaking of price range, a bottle will set you back around £28 – £30. It’s a bit Scotch-whisky-by-numbers but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Decent drop at a decent price. No more, no less.
Buy Sheep Dip at Master of Malt click here
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