Haig Club Whisky Launch!


Haig Club Whisky Launch!

Haig Club Whiskey & David Beckham?

As many of you will know, I’ve been quietly running my little Haig Whisky Fan site for the last 5 or 6 years with the aim of keeping the name of Haig Whisky alive as the oldest whisky in the world.

Until 30 or 40 years ago, Haig whisky which been produced for over 300 years in Cameronbridge in Scotland was one of the most popular whiskies in the world. But then it faded and died with only Haig Whisky aficionados and Fan sites such as HaigWhisky.com keeping the name and the legend alive through websites and social media pages such as our own at www.Facebook.com/haigWhisky and www.twitter.com/haigWhisky.

Imagine my surprise then when I was contacted by Diageo a few months ago telling me that they were re-launching Haig Whisky with a new entry level single grain scotch whiskey from Cameronbridge distillery to be called Haig Club (buy Haig Club online). I’d like to think that they named it after our little Haig Club with 100 members scattered around the world, but I think that it may just have been one of those crazy whisky coincidences!

Haig Club Scotch Whisky - Beckham Haig Whisky BottleOn top of all that they told me that the new face of Haig Club would be David Beckham! Now when I think of Haig Whisky, I have always thought of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig of World War One fame. What will the original Haig Club make of this!

As no one in Diageo sent me a free sample bottle to say Thanks for my 5 years of keeping Haig alive, I had to buy my own bottle in the airport whiskey shop enroute to Brussels. If I thought that David Beckham and Haig Whisky was a shock, imagine my face when I saw this big blue after shave bottle and the price!

But, you know as I carried it (still sealed) around Brussels it began to grow on me. It’s a bold and courageous marketing statement The packaging is innovative and different. And it’s a single grain whisky which should make it easy drinking and inoffensive.

Single grain whisky is the more basic whisky that is blended with pot still and single malt whisky to tone them down for whisky beginners. In Ireland the starter Original Bushmills has 50% Grain and 50% Malt whiskey. It’s bigger brother Black Bush has 20% Grain and 80% Malt whiskey and finally Green Bush or Bushmills Malt is all grown up at 100% Malt. Grain whisky is lighter and sweeter and also has little or no character unless it has been aged for at least 5 to 8 years such as Greenore whiskey in Ireland which takes its character almost totally from the wood of the casks it has been matured in for over 8 years. Grain whisky is therefore more normally used to take the rougher or more robust edges (beloved of experienced whisky drinkers) off the more usual Scotch whisky made from peated malt.

Haig Club is therefore an entry level whisky aimed at the whisky beginner or at converting drinker of other spirits such as gin and vodka over to whisky. From Haig Club, new whisky drinkers can gradually work up the Pooka Whisky scale from Haig Club at Pooka 1 to say Laphroaig at Pooka 2 or 3 and on in years to come to Pooka 4 and even 5!

So enjoy Haig Club the latest addition to the 350 year old Haig Whisky clan! It’s a harmless little whisky which is probably undeserving of much of the harsh commentary such as at the Haig Club Whisky reviews over at Master of Malt and other sites. My main quibble is with the exorbitant price being charged for a very basic, entry level single grain Scotch whisky.

The Haig Club marketeers make a big fuss over telling us that it is aged in 3 different types of cask, but despite my many requests for information through their Twitter account, they have declined to reply to me to tell me what type of casks and for how long? If, as I suspect, the total maturation time is the minimum 3 years required by law in a mix of first fill and refill bourbon casks, this is very basic grain whisky indeed and certainly not worth the price which is about three times what it should be for a similar or better single grain Scotch or Irish whisky such as Greenore or Teeling Single Grain..

The lovely gift box packaging is of the highest quality, although here at the Haig Whisky Club, we have received numerous complaints from customers who ordered Haig Club online from a Supermarket chain only to have it delivered with no gift box or packaging. We have also received numerous complaints about the Haig Club Corks or Stoppers breaking after a few days of use. See Facebook/HaigWhisky.

In summary and in my humble opinion, this Haig whisky is not worth over £50 a bottle. Is the bling of the box and bottle worth £50 as a nice corporate gift or Father’s Day present? That’s your call.

With apologies to Meghan Trainor, my review of Haig Club can be summarised as “It’s all about the box, ’bout the bottle, not barrel”!

 

For Stuart’s tasting notes see the Haig Club listing in our online shop

3 Comments

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  1. 1
    jennifer

    Thanks for the education, Stuart. That explains a lot! I’ve never really enjoyed distilled beverages other than single malt Scotch Whisky, so your explanation helps me understand what the Haig Club is. I had mistakenly anticipated something more towards what I know I like. Fortunately there seems to be unlimited variety to choose from. I will put my Haig Club into my miscellaneous brown liquor cabinet so as not to present it as something it is not.
    I also needed to have my spelling corrected 😉
    I appreciate your thorough response!
    All the best,
    Jennifer

  2. 2
    jennifer

    What grain is used for the Haig Club “single grain” Scotch Whiskey? I appreciate the vast differences in the taste of single malt scotch whiskies but why does Haig Club have its own flavor palette? It hints at Canadian rye whiskey, Kentucky Bourbon, Tennessee Bourbon whiskey, Irish whiskey … but it’s not really like a Scotch whiskey… why?

    • 3
      Stuart McNamara

      Hi Jennifer,

      Great to hear from you. I suppose, I should start with the basics. Haig Club is a Single Grain Whisky. Many people can wrongly assume that this means that it is made from just one type of grain (Barley, Rye, Wheat, Maize etc).

      In fact the word Single refers to the fact that it contains grain whisky from just a single distillery.

      The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 formally define five categories of Scotch Whisky. The relevant category description must appear clearly and prominently on every bottle of Scotch Whisky sold.

      Single Malt Scotch Whisky

      A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals, and (ii) by batch distillation in pot stills. From 23 November 2012, Single Malt Scotch Whisky must be bottled in Scotland.

      Single Grain Scotch Whisky

      A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals, and (ii) which does not comply with the definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

      As you will see from my other writings, Grain Whisky is a cheaper and lighter whisky made in mass production column stills rather than pot stills and is generally used a a cheap filler in blended whiskies to tone down the more robust flavours of malt and pot still whiskies.

      I have asked the PR people in Haig Club for further details of how exactly Haig Whisky is made and matured but unfortunately they have not been forthcoming.

      However, my own spies in the industry tell me that they believe that Haig Club is made from 90% wheat and just 10% barley.

      The distinct spicy flavours of Irish Whiskey (with an e!) generally are down to the combination of malted and unmalted barley made in pot stills. Irish whiskey malt is generally dried in a kiln where the smoke does not make direct contact with the malted grain. That is why Irish whiskey is not smokey like Scotch.

      Scotch malt whisky uses malted barley that has been dried by turf or peat smoke which generally gives many Scotch whiskies a distinctive smokey flavour. Of course there are exceptions to both cases with peated Irish whiskey such as Connemara etc.

      Many leading Irish and Scotch whiskies are also aged – or contain whiskies that are aged in oak casks for much longer than the minimum 3 years required by law. The longer it is aged, generally the darker the colour of the whisky and the more character it gains from the wood. As you can see when you pour a glass of Haig Club, it is quite light and almost straw like yellow in colour. This may be one of the reasons why it is marketed in a blue bottle. Haig Club is also I believe, aged for 3 years in old pre-used bourbon barrels and these will have some small influence of the flavour. I hope this has answered your questions? Feel free to ask for further clarification below.

      Kind regards,

      Stuart

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