MacLean’s Nose Blended Scotch


Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…

MacLean’s Nose is a new blended Scotch whisky brand from the team behind the Adelphi independent bottler and the Ardnamurchan Distillery. The whisky’s unusual name has something of a double meaning, serving as a nod to Charlie MacLean, the renowned writer and consultant who has served as an advisor to Ardnamurchan and Adelphi, whilst also referring to a landmark on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

MacLean’s nose is a jutting headland at the base of Ben Hiant on the Ardnamurchan coast, an area known for troublesome conditions that have seen many sailors find themselves in grave difficulty. In August 1938, a yacht known as the Eriska had to be rescued after encountering fierce seas between Mull and Ardnamurchan.

The Eriska left Tobermory on the evening of Monday 22 August 1938. Early the next morning, they encountered terrific squalls opposite the headland known as MacLean’s Nose. The wind was so strong that the mainsail was torn away and heavy seas breaking on board rendered the motor engine useless. Only with the help of the jib and mizzen sails did the vessel clear the Ardnamurchan coast. Gradually, she reached the relative shelter of the coast of Mull where she dropped sea anchor and awaited rescue.

The yacht was discovered by the MacBrayne’s Steamer King George V which had left Tobermory en route to Iona. The steamer rounded the Rudh-nan-Gall lighthouse and observed the Eriska midway between Bloody Bay and the Ardnamurchan coast flying distress signals. The King George V was manoeuvred into position, a hawser made fast and the disabled vessel towed back to Tobermory Bay. The crew escaped unharmed but it was a warning to all who would sail of the perilous conditions to be found in the Sound of Mull.

  • Story from Oban Times of Saturday 27 August 1938.

The Ardnamurchan Distillery was established in 2014. Built and owned by Adelphi, an independent bottling company, it has a long relationship with Charlie MacLean, undoubtedly one of the most influential writers in the whisky world over the last four decades. In addition to his vast writing credits (several of Charlie’s books sit proudly on my own shelf at home), Mr MacLean also acts as a consultant on various projects, none more so than Adelphi where he has regularly aided with cask selection and blending advice. Charlie is many things to many people but his love for blended Scotch often shines through when he speaks about whisky and this new brand from the Ardnamurchan team seems a particularly fitting tribute.

MacLean’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky

MacLean's Nose Blended Scotch Whisky

The whisky is a blended Scotch, bottled at 46%. There is apparently a particularly high malt content of around 70% of the recipe, with the rest comprising grain whisky. The exact recipe isn’t disclosed of course, although it seems a safe bet that there’s some Ardnamurchan in there. There’s also an unknown quantity of sherry casks used in the creation of the blend.

Smell: Toffee, fudge, caramel. Also some green apples and pears. Some malty, digestive biscuit notes. Currants and sultanas. Fragrant sherry and dunnage oak. Orange zest and a little fresh ginger. Now some light bonfire smoke.

Taste: Rich and intense with aromatic peppery spices, raisins and toffee with some dark chocolate and coffee at the back. Some apple, honey and a wee bit of vanilla sweetness. There’s also a wee touch of oak before some subtle smoke emerges in the finish.

Thoughts: The nose, in particular, is interesting because it seems to flit between a rich, sherried character and something lighter and fresher, whereas the palate seems to linger on the richness for longer. Like the best blends, it seems hard to pin down. There’s no one distinct note that dominates. Instead, the dram flows and shifts and offers up different facets of itself. It’s all very enjoyable and extremely rewarding given the highly affordable nature of the bottle. Indeed, it feels better than it has any right to be at this price point.

Price: £30. An absolute bargain.

For more on Adelphi / Ardnamurchan visit

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