A thousand and one uses. Tasteful energy. The real mayonnaise. Everyone uses or uses and abuses. All of the above phrases are famous brand slogans in Brazil. It is impossible not to think about Pão de Açúcar when someone says “happy people place”, even though I’ve felt miserable visiting the supermarket in more than one occasion.
Almost all slogans carry a common message. They are positive and cheerful, and convey values such as authenticity or trust. Almost all, because there are a few really weird ones out there. For example, that of the independent bottler Murray McDavid. Their slogan, in Gaelic, is clachan a choin.
Before I tell you what clachan a choin means, let me talk a little bit about Murray McDavid. Its headquarters are currently the Coleburn distillery in the Scottish region of Speyside. It is one of Scotland’s most prolific independent bottlers. In case you don’t know, independent bottlers are companies that visit and choose barrels from different distilleries – which do not belong to it – and produce their own line of whiskies. Sometimes very limited editions. Others, not so much.
The success of an independent bottler lies largely in its creativity. In its capacity to produce improbable editions, which maintains the character of a certain distillery, but which are sufficiently distinct from those produced by it. An independent bottler must produce something new, but with tools that are already there and were not created by it. It must think differently. Be rebellious and defiant. And there it is.
Clachan a Choin means “canine scrotum”. Or, in a translation perhaps coarse, but more faithful, “the dog’s bollocks”. A phrase that, let’s face it, does not need many explanations to convey a sense of rebellion. That Murray McDavid represents very well. Whether with its more exclusive lines (which carry the Murray McDavid brand), or with its more accessible products, from ACEO Spirits.
I had the opportunity to taste some of these creations due to the visit of Murray McDavid’s ambassador to Brazil. Who, incredibly, is a Brazilian. João Pedro Medeiros. During the trip, the representative will perform tastings in Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In Rio, the event – in partnership with Whisky Rio – will take place on March 13, at Bota Restaurante. In São Paulo, the tasting will be at Caledonia Whisky & Co. – which, incidentally, belongs to us.
Among the whiskies tasted, I selected four that – within my weird logic – represent Murray McDavid’s spirit (pun intended) well. The first is a single grain scotch whisky produced by Girvan. By it’s nature, it would already be quite different – there are not many single grains out there. But this also has a very special maturation. It is finished in barrels that previously contained wood wine. Due to the thin body, the maturation is very evident. It is a light, pleasant, sweet and fruity whisky.
The second is Half and Half, a blended of undisclosed malts from Speyside and Lowlands. Maturation took place mainly in American oak barrels. However, after blending, the whisky is transferred to barrels of Spanish sherry wine for completion. Sensorially, it is a more conventional whisky – sweet and with a slight flavor of prune, coming from the finish.
The third is Mulben Moor, a single malt from a distillery – allegedly – not disclosed, but which we know is Auchroisk. Maturation took place in barrels of ex-American oak bourbon, and European oak of ex-Madeira wine. It is a curiously citrusy single malt, reminiscent of lemon peel. It is more intense than the previous ones. The finish is long, fruity and spicy.
The ultimate is Peatside, a blended peated malt. It is a limited edition, with only 848 bottles worldwide. Matured in American oak barrels, and then transferred to two port wine barrels, it is a very smoky whisky, with notes of fruit in syrup and black pepper. Alcohol content is 50%.
If you want to know more about Murray McDavid and the independent bottlers, follow the Bottled Dog in the coming weeks! We will cover the event in São Paulo and interview the ambassador. Here,the place of happy people – tasteful energetic people.