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Thursday, October 2, 2014

NOT Single Malt Report: William Lawson's Finest Blend

Yesterday, I reviewed Grand Old Parr 12 year old, a pleasant tasty alternative to Chivas, though at a higher price.  Today, I venture down down down down to a lower shelf.

William Lawson's Finest Blend is one that is not sold in The States.  Florin (a prince) brought a bottle back from his recent voyage behind the Iron Curtain to Poland.  Adjusting for exchange rates, a 700mL bottle often sells for $10-$15 in much of Europe.  So keep in mind the price territory here.

The William Lawson's brand has an XTREME-styled website, seemingly designed for adults who still crush Mountain Dews.  Their commercials are of the loud sort as well.  Aside from the (NAS) Finest Blend, there's a 13 year old which used to be a 12 year old (upwards!) and a Super Spiced flavored product sold in (and designed for?) the US market.

Master of Malt says that William Lawson's is a high-malt whisky.  Meanwhile, William Lawson's official site makes it pretty clear that Macduff is a main ingredient.  That would make sense since Macduff (known as Glen Deveron in its single malt form) distillery and Lawson's are both owned by Bacardi.

What makes this blend of greater interest to me is the gap between the opinions of Ralfy Mitchell and Serge Valentin.  Ralfy likes Lawson's a lot, giving it an 85.  Serge thinks it is poor, giving it a 56.  That's not a casual difference of opinion, even considering that Ralfy grades blends versus blends within their own category while Serge grades everything together.  Let's see whose side I'm on.

Ownership: Bacardi
Type: Scotch Blended Whisky
Age: not stated
Blend: malt and grain whiskies (Macduff is a main ingredient)
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chill-filtered? Yes
Caramel Coloring? Yes

HIGHBALL (1:2 whisky to club soda ratio)
Lots of cereal grains, yeast, and lightly ripened bananas.  No real finish but very refreshing.

The color is light gold, much lighter than the Old Parr.  The nose is intense, rosy, full of flowers and stewed apples.  Lots of exotic overripe fruit odors, some sort of combination of citron, mango, and cantaloupe.  BUT these notes fade out after ten minutes or so, replaced by caramel and burnt raisins.  The palate has one of the thickest textures I've ever felt in a 40% ABV whisky.  The bananas from the highball have now been flambeed.  There's a hint of smoke, possibly from the barrel.  In fact it's like smoked caramel.  Some saltiness, along with cracked pepper and lime.  The weird grain notes often found in young blends are kept to a minimum here.  The finish is sorta short.  There's salt, spice, and savory stuff.  More caramel.  It can get a little cloying, but that much.

Firstly, Ralfy vs. Serge:  Ralfy, as he always does, reviews his own bottle.  In this case don't know if Serge is grading from a sample or a bottle, but I don't recognize any of his notes.  Perhaps he had a corrupted sample?  I do recognize many of Ralfy's notes, though he found even more positives than I did.

For a $10-$15 blend, this is at the head of the pack.  The nose is good if you don't allow it to oxidize.  The texture is impressive.  No turpentine, acetate, or weird crap in the nose or mouth.  If Bacardi sold this in The States, in that price range, I would keep a bottle on hand.  I'm not saying this is excellent whisky, but it's much better than its popular stablemate Dewar's White Label and at half the price.

Availability - Continental Europe and Latin America
Pricing - $10-$15
Rating - 78