It's a mini. Another one of this company's minis looks like this:
It is Old St. Andrews 12-year-old blended Scotch whisky. Old St. Andrews has been in the blending business for some time and appears to be making whiskys mainly for the kitschy gift market. (Just see this Google Image Search of their bottles.) It appears to be more for the people-who-like-mounted-singing-fish rather than anoraks. I make that judgement call only due to their decisions on the presentation aesthetics of their products.
As for the barrel mini that was in my possession? Firstly, the plastic barrel isn't terribly functional, as it took a pair of pliers to get the cap off the bottom. Secondly, it doesn't make for easy pouring. Thirdly, it was 99 cents at Hi Time Wine Cellars.
And hey, who knows, the whisky could be good...
OLD ST. ANDREWS 12 YEAR OLD BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY
Bottler: Old St. Andrews Limited
Distributor: Niche Imports
Age: minimum 12 years old
Ingredients: 12 to 18 single malts plus grain whisky, LOTS of grain whisky
I wish I could provide more information, but the company's own website has nothing on the 12yr. The sales snippets on retail sites tend to push the fact that the whisky was aged in oak (unique!) and that Jim Murray once rated one of their blends highly, seven years ago (unique?).
Its color is a bright shiny yellow gold. The nose leads with apples and light citrus. It gets woody quickly. Gradually hints of nuts, Scope mouthwash, and maple syrup arise. The palate is of mostly grain whisky. It has that Lauders-esque cheap vodka moment. There's some plain sweetness and salt. Some cocoa, burnt paper, some more wood, and a small ethyl bite. Its finish carries some lemon candy and chocolate, somehow being both sticky sweet and lightly bitter.
The nose is oaky, gassy, grainy, brown sugary, and vanilla extract-y. Better overall. The grains improve on the palate too. The water smoothens over any weird edges and leaves behind a mildly sweet generic vanilla note. But the finish turns odd. Something unpalatable and unnamable created a strange aftertaste that turned my stomach after a couple minutes.
Or maybe it was something I ate. So I won't blame the 48-hour tummy ache on the whisky.
I felt it was quite interchangeable with Lauder's Finest and, similarly, best left for cocktails. That's not necessarily an insult since Lauder's is palatable, but Lauder's is also 3 years old (as per its label) while this Old St Andrews is 12 years old. Both are mostly (I dunno, 80%?) grain whisky. Also, Lauder's can be had for $10 per 750mL. Old St Andrews 12yr is much more expensive, but I guess one is paying for the bottle.
Availability - A few liquor specialists, worldwide
Pricing - ??? at $30-$50
Rating - 70