A litre of Buchanan’s hard to find (in the UK at least) blend. ‘Stunningly soft texture, enormously fruity with some firm grain through the middle and then spice. 85/100’ Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2005
Buchanan’s is one of those lesser known whisky brands with a reputation that seems to exceed it’s actual position within the world stage. It’s like the little brother whose big brother does well and he gets shunted to the back of the queue. A case in point, I’ve never seen this whisky advertised in the UK, the picture at the top of this page was the only snap I was able to find of it until I spotted a bottle in a shop in Dublin.
Far from being an older version of its stablemate, the Buchanan’s original, this is a totally unique blend. Not typical of Irish whisky I’m very surprised to find it produced in the Emerald Isle.
I was expecting a sharp single malt/grain scotch with a watery, astringent finish but Buchanan’s have come up with a very clever blend that seems like it has had more thought put in than I’m used to throwing at it.
At first I thought I was in for a rough ride, some strong grain spirit overpowered the nose at the outset and more than a trace of aniseed. But then it seemed to settle down and rather like a good bottle of wine became something much more complex and interesting to savour.
I got sweet, full fruity notes that sat above the corn spirit like a huge blanket to keep it warm. A little citrus zest surfaced after a while and the creamy barley emerged to give body, as you would expect from a much higher percentage of single grain. A little vanilla sweetened the mouth watering fruit.
There was a little bit of spice but it was a long way to the back of the envelope, hidden in the depths of the corn. It reminded me a little of a sweeter version of the spicy character of Teachers whisky but what I thought would be a light sprinkling of chilli in the mix was actually quite sweet.
The spice, fruit and creaminess that were so apparent on the nose gave way to a much drier and spicier experience in the mouth. The spices were fresher on the palate and added to some ginger and pepper early in the development. A little toffee and orange peel too.
There was a lemony astringency in the finish that balanced the sweetness nicely and actually made the whisky seem more crisp and weighty. I rather liked it. But that’s my style, I like whisky that has some bite.
It was evident from the start that this was a whole lot softer and more rounded than I was expecting, especially curious having detected a few sharp notes on the nose. I enjoyed it very much. It gave the impression of a younger blend that’ll one day mature into one of the best. A subtle elegance that seems to be totally under rated at the moment. This is a whisky with considerable complexity and a lot of layers.
I don’t quite know what category within the whisky spectrum of flavours we are dealing with but it’s not your standard Irish blend. Not that that is a negative by any stretch of the imagination, clearly I found this whisky to be very good indeed. It actually falls into the category of sophisticated blends. Perhaps an introduction to single malts for the novice to whisky.
But what is most interesting is that it doesn’t follow the Irish standard ‘Celtic Cross’ template. Too much wheat and not enough barley malt.
Buchanan’s Deluxe 12 year old, ’the younger Irish blended malt’, is the only one of the 3 different blends from this Award-winning company available in the UK. ‘The Delux mixer is the softest of the range with gentle fruity character and creamy barley’. This is the older of the two expressions. It is now seven years old, having been introduced in 1996. Its two younger siblings are a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old.
The blend is of 70.5% grain whisky (also known as ‘vatted Scotch whiskey’) and 29.5 % single malt. The grain is from 6 of Ireland’s finest grain distilleries, Tyrconnell lies at the heart of the blend and is the largest component. These great Irish distilleries, all of whom have a long tradition of whisky making, are done. All except those in Tyrconnell.