Most whisky lovers know the phrase ‘usage beatha’, literally translating into “water of life”. Usquaebach references this phrase in their name (pronounced “oos-ke-bah”). You can see how similar this sounds to the English word “whisky”. All that being said, the Usquaebach brand goes back over 200 years, but wasn’t trademarked until 1877 by the Laing family.
Today, the three expressions are overseen by Master Blender Stewart Laing. The ‘Reserve’ Premium is a blend of 16, 17 & 18-year-old whiskies along with younger malts. The 15 Year Old ‘Pure’ is 100% Highland single malt aged for at least 15 years in European Oak and Sherry barrels. GSN was not sent a review sample of the ‘Grand Whisky’.
Usquaebach ‘Reserve’ Premium Blended Scotch Whisky (86 proof)
Visual: Mild gold.
Nose: Rich, malty headiness with delicate floral notes. There’s a hint of brine here too, with a bright saltiness that beckons the sea.
Taste: Quite sweet and round. Almost to the point of similarity to an Irish Whiskey. A curious menthol edge kicks in after a moment, bringing things back down to an entirely different level. Robust and masculine, the flavors are intense and need a bit of opening up with water to reveal the more delicate notes of apple, caramel and clove.
Finish: Medium long with a low spiciness way at the back of the palate. Otherwise, more of the vanilla and caramel remain up front and finish things off with a crème brûlée type of finish.
Overall: A more rustic style of Highland Scotch for sure. Perfect in a snifter with a large cube of ice.
GSN Rating: B+
Usquaebach 15-Year-Old ‘Pure’ Malt Scotch Whisky (86 proof)
Visual: Dark yellow-gold.
Nose: Dark, almost apple brandy tones. Thick, intense aged malts with a dose of fresh-cut oak. Saddle leather, and autumnal warmth lingers deep in the glass.
Taste: Completely different from the Reserve Premium, this is full of burnt caramel and vanilla cream. The apple aspect is still there, and adds to the experience in a fruity way that is unusual for a Scotch.
Finish: Fairly long with a pleasant dessert-like satisfaction.
Overall: A great sipper as is, served neat. This also does well on the rocks, or especially in a Rusty Nail where it marries well with Drambuie.
GSN Rating: A-
For more information go to: Usquaebach