In 2009, Sazerac purchased a company called Barton Brands which had a large line mostly of “affordable” spirits like Fleischmann’s Vodka and Gin, Ten High Bourbon and the wonderfully named Mr. Boston Five Star Canadian (the mind reels). Also in the line-up is Lauder’s Blended Scotch Whisky, which according to the incredibly brief amount of information given, was awarded the Gold Medal at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I haven’t been able to dig up much on Lauder’s since then (I also haven’t tried all that hard) so it seems that 1893 hardware might have been a high-water mark for the brand.
Unfortunately, Lauder’s laurels from the Fair just might have been overshadowed by the activities of one Herman Webster Mudgett. Also known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, ol’ Herm has the distinction of being one of America’s first serial killers, doing the majority of his dirty work at a horrific hotel he built and opened to “service” the visitors of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Over a period of few years, Mudgett is thought to have killed between 27 and 200 people, mostly women, selling their bodies to science labs and cashing in the bogus life insurance policies he helped his victims take out…seriously. This was a bad guy, and I say that with abject surety. Burke & Hare had nothing on him. Burke & Hare, however, did commit their heinous deeds in Scotland, and since Lauder’s is a Blended Scotch, that brings us right back in a tidy, if not surreal, little circle.
(I should mention, in all fairness, that Lauder’s Blended Scotch has absolutely nothing to do with shady, violent criminal activity of any kind…at least not that I know of.)
The Nose: Well…at first, this had a very mailroom-esque nose, and by that I mean cardboard boxes and bubblewrap. Then, after a few minutes, some of that blew off and I was left with a soft, sweet nose of timid juicy grapes and graham crackers. It’s a very simple but pleasant nose, though a bit of that dusty cardboard lingers. There’s also a faint, faint, faint whiff of smoke…no…wait, there isn’t, not at all, nevermind.
The Palate: Sweet…simple syrup sweet, if it wasn’t so light it’d be cloying, but again…not unpleasant. Once it moves off the sweetness, it’s all about some mildly spicy simple, perfunctory grain. Not for the first time, I was bracing for a wince-inducing lead-in to the finish but was left with kind of a simpering frown. This stuff goes a little green and harsh at the end, but it really wasn’t all that bad.
The Finish: The finish still grainy and sweet and a touch rough. Also, it’s SHORT!
Thoughts: I was expecting the worst with this one. The last Bargain Bin Friday Scotch I tasted…ok, the only Bargain Bin Friday Scotch I’ve tasted was the infamous butcher, Cluny. Well, let me tell you, Lauder’s beats the hell out of Cluny. I was able to finish a glass of Lauder’s without gagging and sobbing softly to myself, the same can’t be said for Cluny. Granted, this is not close to award-winning stuff, I don’t care what the World’s Fair people say, in fact, it’s what I’d just call “passable”, but it’s not horrible. Indeed, it’s simple, maybe a bit character-less, bland even, but in its own way, drinkable and relatively inoffensive.
Lauder’s Scotch Blended Scotch Whisky (aged 36 months)