Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: Buchanan's 18 years Blended Scotch Whisky

This is my review of Buchanan's 18 year old blended Scotch whisky.


Nose (undiluted)
Sherry, oak, very floral, orange zest.  Very nice!

Palate (undiluted)
Smooth entry, window pane smooth, orange, almonds, brazil nuts, some smoke and spiced sherry.

Finish (undiluted)
A wee graininess, citrus notes, graphite, malty, plums, black pepper, table salt, accompanied by acrid, stale cigarette smoke.

General Impressions
I paid around $85 for this bottle and I am not impressed.  At that price point, I expect some complexity.  None really here.  There is some concentrated red fruit and citrus notes, but that is not complexity.  At the same price point or less, I could be enjoying any number of entry level single malts that exhibit a more pleasant sherried flavor profile.  I am thinking Balvenie Doublewood 12 yrs or GlenDronach 12 years.  Both are cheaper and better.

I suspect that this blend was designed for that segment of the blended Scotch whisky market that enjoys smooth, totally inoffensive whisky that can be enjoyed with ice or as a mix.  I do not think at the price point I paid that this should be used as the base of a whisky cocktail, but that probably is a more suitable use than to be enjoyed neat.

A much cheaper alternative would be to pick up a bottle of Black Grouse blended Scotch.  You will get pretty much the same flavor profile at a fraction of the price.


Jason Debly


  1. Jason,

    Enjoyed the review.

    $85 for inoffensive Mediocrity is offensive to my sensibilties. Maybe my expectations are unreasonable, but I expect something interesting even when I spend 25% as much. For example, I can get Islay Mist for $15 and Bank Note for $20 (for a liter bottle). Neither are complex, but I think both are interesting and better than mediocre (especially at the price).

    By the way, I think it was JK who recommended Bank Note (in one of his comments). So a big thank you to him for that.

    - Josh

    1. I really like this blend, but it's only $55-$60 here. It definitely tastes like an older whisky blend and is much better to me than almost other blends. I'd rather pay extra for this than Black Grouse or any of the JW's, except Double Black, which has a younger peaty flavor. It's an old style blend that makes me think of whisky that should be drunk in a wood-paneled library while sitting in a leather chair smoking a light-flavored cigar. I agree it's not highly flavored, but needs to be accepted for what it is. When I want lots of overt flavor, I go to single malts. This is subtlety complex.

    2. Josh, you said it better than me. Islay Mist is not complex but it is attractive, bringing me back for me. It has the hook. Buchanan's is not complex, but lacks the hook. A music analogy would be: John Lennon may have not been the versatile guitarist capable of what Joe Satriani, but everyone remembers Daytripper, but no one can name a Satriani composition. Lennon had the hook with memorable riffs like Islay Mist.

  2. Readers, I have heard from JK. In an email he said he is still reading the blog and is not offended by our differing tastes. He has not been commenting because his computer or gmail account seems to be not cooperating when he tries to leave a comment. I have invited him to email me his comments and thoughts and I will post them for him.

    Hopefully we will here from him soon!

  3. Jason, Here's another try at posting. Noticed your site now does require re-entry of the entire post twice, to make it publish. Not nice. It's changed at some point in the last several months. Have used IE and Firefox, same result.

    Am sorry you didn't enjoy the B-18 blend; it's personal favorite of mine. I love the complexity and the lean style. Nothing covered up by new wood or finishes ! So rare these days and wonderful, to find something that tastes like production from the 1960's and before. The "nakedness" (ash, bitterness, licorice, grass) of the original distillate was a very traditional style and is intentionally sought in this blend. It is apparently not a crowd-pleaser among palates developed in the past decade, a period in which I'd characterize most blends with a too-often heavy slathering of more active (first fill and first refill) Bourbon and American oak barrels. Am looking forward to your next review. Carry on ! Cheers ! JK

    1. Good to hear from you! I have no idea why it is difficult to post to this blog. Google (who own blogger) are always changing things.

      Take Care!

  4. Evening, the Bunna' is solid enough but as you say lacks the dynamic nature of some of the rival Islay distilleries. In saying that the 25 year old is very nice but for the price it should be!