Strathclyde’s Single Grain – Is this Scotch Bourbon?

Strathclyde is Chivas Bros’ grain distillery, operating in Glasgow. The distillery has seven column stills used to produce grain whiksy, and while they also have the capacity to produce neutral spirit, the distillery doesn’t use that feature. The grain whisky is intended for use in the Chivas Bros’ blends.

Strathclyde distillery was founded in 1927 by Seager Evans, who produced gin, and created the Long John Blended whisky which was named after ‘Long’ John McDonald, founder of Ben Nevis.  Of note is the fact that, between 1958 and 1975, they operated a single malt distillery within the Strathclyde factory, named Kinclaith. And while Tormore was Long John’s signature malt, the single malt from Kinclaith was used almost exclusively for the Long John Blends. Kinclaith was dismantled in 1975 to make way for more column stills for grain production after Long John was sold to Whitebread, and Strathclyde made its way to Allied’s hands, eventually becoming part of Pernod Ricard.

The distillery is closed to the public, and anybody with a keen enough interest in the distillery to make a pilgrimage to it, will have to satiate their interest by walking or driving around the distillery, as did this frustrated fan of Strathclyde:

Which brings us to 2015, where Fred Laing went into the vast warehouse of whisky wonders and selected four single cask grains to bottle in their Old Particular range. This is the first foray into bottling Grain whisky under this brand, although a 40 year old Strathclyde has already been bottled under the premium ‘Xtra Old Particular’ label, which replaced (only by name, the bottle design is the same) the ‘Director’s Cut’ label. It seems that the recent bottling of these four grains in the Old Particular range signify a planned move to consolidate the Douglas Laing brands around fewer marketing focal points, one of which being the ‘Remarkable Regional Malts’ (combining the highly popular Big Peat with Scallywag, Timorous Beastie and Rock Oyster) and the other being ‘Old Particular’ as opposed to today’s 12 brands under the Douglas Laing pagoda.

This brings us to the inevitable focal point of this post, the whisky review. This one is fascinating, as given in a blind tasting (in a dark blue glass) I’d swear it was American bourbon. Granted, in Kentucky this would be achieved in less than a tenth of the 27 years this liquid spent in a cask, but hey, this is scotch…

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Douglas Laing Old Particular Single Cask Grain Strathclyde 27 Year Old, Distilled September 1987, Bottled June 2015, Cask DL10804, 198 Bottles From a Refill Barrel (51.5% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, thin legs forming rather quickly and rolling down the glass.

Nose: Sweet corn notes – really bourbon like, spice mix with pepper and a note of turmeric and some floral notes.

Palate: Thick, bourbon-y with some oak and a lot of pepper with a pronounced layer of sweetness. In fact, the spiciness and the and sweetness battle for dominance with the spice winning by a margin.

Linger: Starts out sweet, giving way to a light bitter note with dryness on the palate and some spice in the back throat in a rather long linger.


This is a very bourbonesque Scotch grain with a nice lightly bitter finish. That finish is quite endearing.

Official sample provided by Douglas Laing & Co.

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