I wanted to call this post “blend it like Beckham”, but it’s a single grain whisky – not a blended whisky – and thus my pun will forever go unappreciated. Haig Club whisky has caused a bit of a stir in the whisky world because it comes attached with a celebrity – a Mr David Beckham. You can imagine the jeers of a thousand hardened dram-pushers at just the thought of that.
Haig Club is a new brand from Scotland’s oldest grain whisky producer, the House of Haig, which dates back to the 17th Century. Originally John Haig & Co Ltd, whose family included Field Marshal Douglas Haig. David Beckham is being heavily featured in the promotion of the new Diageo whisky. Perhaps worth noting is the rather unique packaging of an electric blue square bottle, shaped to look like a cheap Davidoff aftershave knock-off (I jest; I actually quite like the design involved, and I’m a fan of a unique bottle).
Now I’m all for promoting single grain whisky, and I’m very much an admirer of this much maligned liquid. Grain whisky is a little different to malt whisky. Instead of barley being used as the source of sugary goodness, other grains are used – historically maize, but mostly wheat these days. It’s distilled in a column still, unlike the attractive copper stills you might have seen on a distillery tour and postcard, and comes out at a much higher ABV. All in all, it’s cheaper to produce and grain whisky tends to be used in blends for the most part (hence the fact that it’s often looked down upon). But there’s been a marvellous trend of late for single grain whiskies. This pleases me no end – because it can be terrific. The Clan Denny range from Douglas Laing, and Nikka whiskies are particularly good and worth checking out.
Bringing in a celebrity to draw attention to single grain is no bad thing, as far as I’m concerned. But what of Beckham’s whisky itself? Bottled at 40% ABV, and priced at £45, is this liquid best consumed or slapped on the face after shaving?
Colour: deep copper. On the nose: A lot of dairy flavours coming through: a very creamy brie, a little evaporated milk perhaps, but then some curious agricultural and brackish notes. A bit weird, but not entirely unpleasant. Vanilla, then more like a freshly unwrapped Werther’s Original. A whiff of burnt matches in the distance.
In the mouth: … I’m sure some flavours will come along shortly… Nothing really. Some very faint yeasty, doughy notes – not unlike champagne, but a glass that’s been left out in the sun too long. A little caramel perhaps, but that’s it. This is probably the blandest whisky I’ve tasted in a long while. You can honestly get cheaper blends with far more flavour. Just pick up any bottle of Johnnie Walker, seriously. If you want to try an interesting grain whisky, try and get a bottle of Nikka Coffey Grain instead. Like a funky bottle and amazingly tasty whisky at a cheap price? Buy Nikka from the Barrel.
As for Haig Club? Very disappointing. I honestly expected more. This is all about the nice packaging, with not much going on inside. It’s way overpriced and best avoided – don’t be swayed by the branding.