Last year, I tried a bottle of scotch that I’d never heard of before — Usquaebach.
For us non-native speakers of Gaelic, the word looks like a lot of other scotch whisky names. But it’s a variant of uisge beatha, the Gaelic words meaning “water of life.” The name Usquaebach was commemorated by Robert Burns in a poem, titled Tam O’Shanter (he uses the line “Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!” – with the water of life, we face the devil!).
With that name origin in mind, what is Usquaebach? It’s is a blended scotch whisky and the product is over 225 years old. To prove it, they still sell some of it in an old timey flagon. And for those who are audibly curious, it’s pronounced “oos-ke-bah,” which I probably would’ve gotten on the sixtieth try!
43% abv, the bottle I tried (sent by their PR company) didn’t come in flagon but a regular bottle. Shucks. 🙂
- Nose: A younger blend with bits of honey, sugar, and citrus. Not much oak on the nose and some spice, like the soft warmth of ginger and some vanilla. It has a little bit of everything except iodine and smokiness but not a lot of anything.
- Palate: Toasted malt with a sweetness and vanilla. A little pepper spice to it. Light in the mouth, not much heft to it.
- Finish: Medium with light caramel, chocolatey finish and a bit of pop with the pepper.
It was a tasty whisky and they state it has a blend of 10-18 year old whiskies, which I believe. At a price of $43, I wouldn’t rush out and get some (the value proposition isn’t there) but it’s a nice middle of the road (nose/palate-wise) that doesn’t disappoint.
For a good value I like Lismore, a Speyside at 40 %. It is verrry smooth. I can’t describe it with all the fruit, nuts, smoke and candy like you do, but it’s good, and at about $22
I’ll buy more.
You probably got a different one. They have a 15 year old in a regular bottle (in an amber bottle, I believe), Reserve Premium in a green bottle, and the Old Rare Superior (which is what I have and love) in the flagon. Different blends with different tastes and price points. The 15 year old is a blend from single malts 15-20 years, Reserve is 50% single malts from 16-18 years blended with single grain, and the Old Rare is, per the Ambassador Ryan Judson:
“That particular bottle is one of about 4000 produced and released in 2012. There is a selection of 41 single malts chosen to be blended for that release by our blender at Douglas Laing in Glasgow. All of the malts are from the Highlands and average 20 years of age, with the oldest malt a 30 Year whisky. There is only 15% premium grain whisky blended into the final blend – a significantly small amount for Blended Scotch Whisky.”
Oh, at the $43 price point, you did get a different one from the flagon. The Old Rare is double+ that price. 🙂
Tried it a few years ago and had much the same reaction: pleasant, but unremarkable. Haven’t ever bought it again… but I did keep that cool jug 🙂
Itried some Glenfiddich 12yr not to bad for my first taste of scotch then glen livit ahh
I;LL pass on any more went bach to glenfiddich cause Ikind a like it so for a change of pace from bourbon and whiskey. cheers
I first tried this scotch over 30 years ago.The expensive version is the way to go.The $43 version does not cut the mustard,A deceased restauranteur introduced it to me and he had the best collection of scotches in Philadelphia. For that matter,almost any where that have ever been. I stopped buying it because it essentially became unavailable.My last bottle cost about $85 to $90.
I think that a true Scotch lover should not overlook a handful of unique blends just because they are not single malts! I like Old Parr Reserve and Pig’s Nose. Both of which are hard to get ahold of,but cheaper than Usquaebach.
I can’t believe that you haven’t encountered Usquaebach until now. I’ve enjoyed it since the 60’s, when I could find it (Pittsburgh) but, I haven’t seen it in a Penna. state store for years. If I recall, the importer is located in a Pittsburgh suburb. That’s just not right!
I always thought it was a very pleasant scotch, if not overpriced.
Hrm that’s interesting, I’m new to it but this was the first time for me.
Usquaebach is one that I have not tasted, but I will put it on my list. I am currently drinking a Glen Grant Five Decades single malt. 46% ABV. Tasting Notes:
Appearance – Light golden barley.
Nose – A rich and smooth marriage of vanilla, honey and Oloroso sherry.
Palate – Wonderful mouth-feel of orange blossom and honey.
Intensely creamy with sweet toffee and mellow raisin fruit.
Finish – Smooth and fruity lingering aftertaste.
Glen Grant master distiller Dennis Malcolm brings us this unique and very limited edition offering, a vatting of his favorite casks, laid down over his 50 years of service
Price paid in 2014 was 125 British Pounds, so it is not a cheap whisky. I am sort of neutral on whether the price is worth it. Maybe I just expected more!
First new Scotch of 2016 is Aultmore 12. Full Bourbon cask Speyside malt, non-chilled filtered and bottle at 46%. Full body and well rounded. Very balanced, fruity and smooth with light oak on the finish. Not outstanding but good. Recommend if you find a bottle.