Bargain Bin Fridays #2 – Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky

Installment #2 of the utterly painful, foolhardy, and somewhat disheartening Bargain Bin Fridays brings us to the shores of Scotland to sample “a superior blend of the finest distilled Scotch whiskies aged in oak casks & specially selected for their superior quality and rich flavors“. This is the heady mantle worn by Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky. Aged for 36 whole months in what I’m guessing are well-passed-their-prime barrels, Cluny is not content to be bottled on its own home turf, oh no, it insists on being shipped in bulk to Kentucky for that last little step. Yes really. This Whyte & Mackay owned brand is concocted from more that 30 malts and grain whiskies, warehoused in Scotland, then shipped over to Heaven Hill in Bardstown where it’s shoved unceremoniously into the finest plastic bottles like the one pictured here.

This is apparently a fairly big seller in the states, proving once again that there is no accounting for taste, especially in this country. A 750ml bottle of this stuff clocks in around $10 which, while cheap, is not necessarily a bargain.

The Nose: Bright, sweet and faintly floral but mostly antiseptic…but not in that Islay way, more in the “here, let me scrub out that open wound” way. Also harsh grain and alcohol. Initially, there was also, and it pains me to say this, a whiff of Chinese food. I tasted this a long way from the kitchen, so the experience was, in a word, alarming. Thankfully after a few minutes, this kind of disappeared, but there remained a slightly sour, fried rice tang to it.

The Palate: Right off the bat, I’d like to say that I poured WAY too big a taste.  There’s no way I’m gonna finish the 30ml I poured in my Glencairn glass…oh god, how could I do this to a Glencairn glass? How can something this sweet be this bitter and vice versa? There was some grain and probably some other flavors, but I’m not going to dig for them. If you want to come over and work up a bigger flavor profile for this one, be my guest, there’s plenty left in my plastic bottle.

The Finish: Gah…there’s no way I’m going to finish…

Thoughts? Several, thanks. Firstly…why? Secondly, what does “Cluny” mean? I’m no Gaelic expert, but my guess is “Instead of pouring them down the drain, let’s put all the garbage Scotch together in plastic bottles and sell it to Americans.” Now that I think of it, maybe this is some arch joke, if so…well played, Messrs. Whyte & Mackay. I dunno, I’m at a loss for words on this one. The best thing I can say about Cluny is that I was listening to Jimmy Smith while I had my first…and last taste of it.

Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky

40% ABV

Score: 66.6*

* scores of 66.6 simply reflect the most hellish whiskies and despite their numerical appearance, do not sequentially fall between 66 and 67 in terms of “quality”. They stand purely alone.


14 thoughts on “Bargain Bin Fridays #2 – Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky

  1. The thought of whisky from a plastic bottle causes me to shutter. I know Sherry Butts owns a car. Have you considered the possibility of using the remainder as anti-freeze?

  2. $10, plastic bottle, wafts of Chinese food – oof! As soon as I saw “Cluny” it put me in mind of “cluggie” (rhymes with ‘budgie’), Glaswegian for toilet. Sounds like that’s where you should pour the rest.

    1. Not wrong, just my opinion. I’ve tasted a lot of whisk(e)y in Cluny’s price range and up, and…well, I found Cluny to be horrible. But that’s just my taste, just my informed opinion. I’m sure I like some whisky out there that others find abhorrent. That’s the beauty of the stuff, one man’s poison is another man’s pleasure. If you like it, don’t let my opinion of it cloud your enjoyment.

  3. Aye, its dreadful stuff… but cheap. And that commends it to the financially-deprived, of which, unfortunately, I am one. After the third shot it improves substantially. Its a damn shame that good scotch whiskey is relegated to the rich folk. But there you have it. I will say my palate was not discerning enough to catch the chinese food bouquet (luck of the Scottish?). For the future, when I go cheap it’ll be bourbon – inexpensive bourbon is still a joy and a blessing.

    1. Thanks, Bobby!

      I’m right there with you, there’s still a lot of inexpensive, high quality bourbon out there, and that’s what’s gracing my cabinet lately. Inexpensive bourbon can taste pretty good, inexpensive scotch can taste like hell.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. As I recently mentioned i really enjoyed Cluny, however the price was increased by $8 for a 1.75 liter. I have other choices and unfortunately I will not be back to Cluny unless it’s more reasonably priced. I am on limited income and enjoy a good scotch occasionally. Sorry. Bob

  4. Just tried buying Clunny today as my store was out for about 4 months. Saw it was priced $8 more. Sorry Cluny no more business from me.

  5. I love Cluny and no headache in morning…on fixed its great for good ole days when I had money..haha…it was Johnny Walker black..special occasions its was The Blue….glad for the memories….don’t stop making Cluny please

  6. Cluny is the name of a castle owned by the MacPherson clan. I have never tried the Scotch, but probably would have, because the name attracted me. After reading this, I’m not so enthusiastic!

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