Friday, April 1, 2011

Speyburn 10

Review:  Speyburn 10
Price:  $25 - 35
Strength:  40% ABV

Bargain single malt Scotch is sort of an oxymoron.  You don't necessarily get what you pay for in the Scotch world, but I find often enough there's a decent correlation between price and quality, at least within the price range I'm comfortable with.  So when an actual single malt is regularly priced at about $25 for a fifth* (and as low as $16 online), you have to wonder just what's wrong with it.

I can't resist a bargain, so this is actually the second time I've had Speyburn 10, and really, there's nothing wrong with it.  I find mild honey and toffee notes, and a decent texture, but it's also somewhat hidden behind a rather flat, dull character and a bit of harsh youthfullness.  There's also a mild musty flavor that reminds me of Johnnie Walker Black.  Interestingly, Speyburn was formerly owned by Diageo, and featured heavily in blends, so I have to imagine that some found its way into Johnnie Walker the last time I had it, almost ten years ago.  The distillery is officially named "Speyburn-Glenlivet," which hearkens back to a time when Glenlivet was the name in single malts; everybody, even Macallan, appended their name with "Glenlivet," despite the fact that most were located nowhere near the River Livet.

Speyburn is apparently the ninth best selling single malt in the United States, which can only be a function of price, and doesn't say much for American's taste buds in general.  Speyburn is not unpleasant, but it is unexciting, and tastes...well, cheap.  In fact, the most endearing thing to me about the whisky is the fish on the label...apparently Speyburn is a scenic distillery, located on a beautiful fishing river.

65 points (D-) Probably best mixed in a strong cup of tea....the musty flavor bends well with chai.

*I know that the measurement of a "fifth" of whisky is quite antiquated at this point, and that particular size bottle has actually had a volume of 750 ml rather than a true fifth of a gallon (757.082357 ml) for years, but what can I say?  I like Imperial units, and I'm stubborn.

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  1. I seem to remember having a dram of Speyburn 8 once and thinking it was the thickest, maltiest Scotch I'd ever tasted. I must be mistaken though because it doesn't look like there is such a thing as Speyburn 8. Maybe it was Speyburn 10, or an 8-year-old from a different distillery ...

  2. I'd be surprised if it wasn't something from another distillery. Speyburn has some decent malt, but the flatness and cheapness stand out so much more...though I must say, I thought I liked the first bottle I had a year or two ago better than this one. Sadly, I didn't take any notes that time, so perhaps it's just faulty memory on my part?