You and I are a lot like Michael Caine's character, Jack Carter, in the brilliant 1971 film noir, Get Carter. Jack Carter is on a mission. Upon learning of his brother's untimely death, Jack decides to take a train ride from London to attend the funeral up in Newcastle. He decides more too. He's asking around about his brother's death in an apparent car accident. The more questions he asks, the more heads he kicks in, the more rough interrogations he conducts, the more . . . the facts don't add up. Someone murdered his brother. Jack is making waves. The Newcastle organized crime syndicate don't like him nosing around.
Jack Carter doesn't give a damn. The Newcastle hoods want him to go back to London . . . or else. They push back hard. Jack doesn't mind, he pushes back too . . . violently.
You and I are a member of a clan, a counterculture, a subculture. You see, we are scotch nuts. We are obsessed. We wax poetically about the beauty of some scotch whiskies and curse loudly the flaws of others. We will not shut up and humbly accept the marketing drivel funneled to us by the multinational drinks companies with their cunning marketing campaigns telling us what is the best scotch. Our brother is the 'truth' in our sojourn in search of great scotch. Brother Truth is the victim of marketing campaigns. We are undeterred. We ask the tough questions. We don't accept the hog wash being sold to us as the gospel. We are on a search. A mission. We want to know what is the best, no age statement, blended scotch whisky in the marketplace today. And if rough interrogation of spirits is necessary, we are ready!
|Te Bheag Blended Scotch Whisky
We have kicked in a lot of doors, pissed off a lot of people, and thrown some stones in glass houses. We know Ballantine's Finest is anything but! Whyte & Mackay is horrendous! On the other hand, Johnnie Walker Red is not as bad as others may have lead you to believe.
So far, our search has concluded that Teacher's Highland Cream is the best of the economy, no-age-statement blended scotch category. We have now just pushed the saloon doors open and at the bar is Te Bheag (pronounced 'chey vek'). It's available in Canada and the United Kingdom, but not widely available in the US. Not sure why. In fact, a search online failed to turn up a US based vendor of this blend.
Great medium peat aromas rising up in the glass, chased by tendrils of sherry and earth.
Velvet textured licorice and rich Virginia tobacco (think Lucky Strikes unfiltered) with plenty peat and cranberry/sherry taste! What a delight!
Smoke, prunes and smoked mackerel. Salty too!
An excellent find! Great big flavors abound! The hallmark of the vast majority of blended scotch is the gentle, soft, middle of the road flavor profile that takes no chances. As a result many blends are mediocre. The truly great blends tend to have great big, sky scraper flavors. These spirits take chances. The room for error is enormous, but success can be an incredible thing, and that is precisely what we have with Te Bheag. I have to say without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best blended, no-age-statement scotch whisky! It rivals Compass Point's Spice Tree or Sheep Dip. But guess what? They are both pure malts (meaning blends of single malts only - no grain whisky). That is how good, Te Bheag is.
I taste a lot of Highland malt in this blend. Specifically, Oban comes to mind. In general, this is a Speysider with a significant Highland malt emphasis. Really rich milk chocolate and hazelnuts comes to mind. Damn! This is good! In ligh of the fact that this blender is located on the Isle of Skye, I would imagine that there must be some Talisker in the mix too. In addition, this blend is non-chill filtered and no caramel is added, which all helps make this blend a crackling dram!
Te Bheag is highly drinkable with no apparent flaws. It is not grainy, no bite, and no taste of alcohol. Te Bheag is so good that if I tasted this blind and someone said this is a blended malt (meaning made up solely of single malts) I would believe it. It's that damn good. I would go so far to say that this superior to a few single malts. Yep, I said it.
The owners of Te Bheag are small and independent. Accordingly, distribution in the US marketplace may be limited, but don't worry, there are plenty of online UK retailers happy to ship to you.
I highly recommend this blended scotch. The price in Canada is around $36, so it is not what I would call an economy blend by any means. While Teacher's Highland Cream reins supreme in that segment of the marketplace, Te Bheag owns the higher end blended, no-age-statement segment. Like Jack Carter, I think we found the truth!
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved. Any and all use is prohibited without permission except for images above taken from the film "Get Carter" as they belong to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. I do not own any rights to "Get Carter" which is posted for the purposes of nostalgia, education and entertainment.