Realising that consumers nowadays are becoming more and more cognizant of the multitude of genres, brands and expressions, several distilleries/distributors are willing to experiment with brands that might not necessarily come with celeb status, but nevertheless have a proven track record back home.
Unfortunately, many of these lay bullied into obscurity as larger, more popular brands hold centre stage only to be whisked away; these spaces now empty are once again stocked and ready for the next round of hands to swoop in. On one of my scouraging rounds, I stumbled across a couple of miniatures whose name didn’t ring a bell. I was disappointed that the store only stocked on 50ml(5cl) goodies and not the entire bottle; nevertheless, I was fortunate to put to test something that in most chances haven’t found many takers.
The brand – Scottish Leader ‘Original’ is a blended whisky that dates back to the 1940s and is available in over 60 countries with South Africa and Taiwan being major markets. The blend is matured primarily in ex-bourbon american oak barrels and much of its heart comes from the Deanston (Highland) and Tobermory (Island) distilleries.
Late 2014, spelt a full revamp of the brand, both in terms of cosmetics as well as what was housed inside; of course with the promise that its soul would very much be intact. Surprisingly, the miniatures I got hold off were from the era prior – bottled in Jan ’14; once again, a boon considering I get to sample a bit of a rarity!
The Pre Nov’14 look is very much aligned to the miniature, just a larger version of it, so nothing much to brag about. The newer bottles however adorn a more modern, bold and contemporary look – tall and rectangular with the corners sliced at an angle. Additionally, the deer associated with the older avatar has now been replaced by a soaring eagle, which to me is a thumbs down.
Eye: Pale Gold
Nose: Sweet overtones from that of barley, complemented with fruity aromatics and lime zest. Laced between this is some smoked wood along with traces of white pepper and ginger peels.
Taste: Quite grainy with hints of honey. Earthy with a bit of acidity followed by some mild spice.
Finish: Warm but Short.
The ‘Original’ is crisp, light with a waxy feel to it; sweet and not overly complicated. The nose is interesting for a whisky that doesn’t cost so much but the palate is quite watered down and mundane. To be honest, I am not intrigued by what this whisky brings to the table; and so feel it best to be used as a mixer.
This whisky stands very much in between the ‘Ballantine’s Finest‘ and the ‘Black & White‘, with the latter taking first place amongst the three. With a few pennies more, you can rather bag a bottle of Teacher’s Highland, which to me is still the most Value for Money blend that is out there in the market.
Having said that, I still am on the lookout for the more recent, revamped bottlings of the ‘Original’, especially considering the blend seems to be getting quite a few raves and reviews – competitions and blind tastings alike! And hoping with the reformulation, it isn’t as watered down as its older avatar…