Whisky Reviews

Whyte & Mackay 13 y.o. “The Thirteen”


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The history of this Scottish institution, which just so happens to produce one (and own the distillery of another; Dalmore) of my favorite whiskies, is pretty turbulent. The companies roots lie in warehousing, which was its main concern for as long as it went under the name of Allan & Poynter (1843-1882) until it was purchased by Charles Mackay & James Whyte. When they purchased the business, and changed its name, the main source of income came from storing and distributing spirits, primarily whisky. So they decided to start blending, and so Whyte & Mackay whisky came to be.

Since then, the company has changed hands several times, most recently to an Indian entrepreneur (Vijay Mallya), and now belongs to United Breweries Group. Since the acquisition, Vijay United Breweries have changed the focus of the label; away from the Scottish/UK market, focusing instead on the growing Indian market as well as the US. Five months after launching their products in India, the group reported a 13% share of the market; not bad, right? Despite increasing profits from just over 2 to just over 20 million pounds, the group soon looked to sell W&M as they overstretched their budget, but so far as I know they still own it. Turbulent indeed.

Anyway, let’s leave that subject for now; I’m getting a bit emotional here.  As you may have gathered from some of my previous posts, Whyte & Mackay is one of my favourite blended whiskies. Everything considered, I think it offers fantastic value for money, and makes for a great day-to-day whisky. I normally save this for the end of my posts, but there’s no point trying to play it like Brando (cool, for all you kids out there) this time – if you don’t have one already, run out and get one.

Right, I keep losing focus, let’s try and pull this back shall we?  I’ve decided to take a look at the standard 13 year old W&M, aka “The Thirteen”, for this review, which retails for around the $30 mark – that equals about 12 servings of fries from a plate of fish and chips. It’s stored for 12 years in sherry casks, then blended, and put back in the casks for another year before being bottled.

The nose is rich and sweet, and you’ll probably pick up hints of oak, raisins, sherry and honey. It’s incredibly smooth on the palate, and all the way down; thick, syrupy (“Plenty of meat and flesh” is how W&M put it on their website), with a distinct sherry character, somewhat nutty, fruitcake comes to mind, and ever so slightly smoky. Simply, a delicious whisky fit for just about any occasion. It is complex enough to satisfy most palates, but not too complex even for a beginner.

Eye: Golden

Nose: Oak, raising, sherry, honey.

Taste: Smooth and thick, lots of fruity sherry flavors (& fruitcake), nutty, spices, and slightly smoky.

Want to buy this whisky? Available in: UK & World (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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