Hidden behind dark silhouettes, held gently by a few cobwebs and sprinkled with dust from the years of abandonment, was this nostalgic bulbous bottle with clear antiquated fonts. And if it was not for the lighting and the resulting hint of gold that caught my eyes, chances are this bottle might not have seen the light of another day, literally.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of the Old Smuggler and it almost felt like I struck gold when my eyes latched onto this bottle. I was on a high as this was my chance to write about something unique but all that came to an end a few minutes later. Apparently it seemed that the brand was and still is well acquainted among-st whisky enthusiasts but probably not with the general public. Tough luck I guess…shucks!
The Smuggler is very much a young whisky with no age statement matured in French and American Oak barrels. Established in 1835, this whisky was named as a tribute to those smugglers who traded these bottles far and wide, and helped establish its popularity at the time. This blend from the Speyside consists of the usual mix of grain vs malt, with most of the malt coming from lesser known distilleries. The whisky was very much a hit during the era of US prohibition and still does manage to keep a sizable fan following. Other major markets are South America and Eastern Europe with Argentina and Belgium being the major consumers.
ABV: 40%, 80 Proof
Eyes: Pale Gold
Nose: Light and soft, with sweet honey, butterscotch and wood hitting the nose. Along with the grain you also begin to appreciate that mild earthiness with a slight play of sweet lime that adds that fruity zest to the pot.
Taste: Very grainy and straightforward with a sweet chemical like aftertaste on the palate, similar to glucose powder followed by bits of spice like that of ginger peels.
Finish: Long and sweet; unfortunately not the pleasant kind.
The Old Smuggler certainly has an interesting nose, but isn’t able to follow through. On the palate it lacks depth and is very much one dimensional; dull, faint and ‘bluh’, almost fully dominated by its grain content.
When compared to its competitors, it isn’t as sweet as the VAT 69, which is good and is easier on the pocket, which is even better; but in terms of flavor or depth it isn’t able to hold ground. What started out with a lot of excitement and verve didn’t quite turn out as expected.
Having said that, it still might be worth a try considering its global appeal and for all you know, might even tickle your taste buds. Unfortunately for me, a cocktail or a highball is as far as I would go with this blend.