I tasted the McClelland's first, and was really happily surpised.
Nose: Sherry, followed by honey and heather
On tasting, the heathery notes stayed throughout, adding a sort of herbal sweetness to the whole experience. This is a spicy malt - almost like a Bourbon, but dominated by malty flavours underneath, rather than the sweeter corn derived flavour in bourbon. Finish returns to the original sherry note, taking me right back where I started.
Slighlty darker, the Cragganmore has hardly any nose at all, in comparison. Much more subdued, it just says "Speyside" to me, and that's about it. Alcohol?
This hits with almost a salty initial bite, then proceeds to generate a lager type of flavour - proving once again that whiskey and beer are related. Almost sour after swallowing (reminding me of Grant's), the aftertaste is long and the stuff comes across as very smooth overrall because of this.
I think the Cragganmore goes down the throat a little easier - a guy could taste this and play with it and find himself quite drunk with little trouble. The McClellands I actually think I prefer the flavour of, if only because it's such an interesting melding of light notes, spice, and malt. I'm impressed with it.
On another note altogether, I noticed Bowmore 12 was the cheapest single malt at the store - just over $20 Cdn, which surprised me greatly. To compare, Aberlour 10 $33, Ardbeg 10 $52, Glenfarclas 10 $46. Seems like Bowmore's a hell of a deal around here.
Cheers to all.
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