By Richard Thomas
William Lawson’s is one of those whiskey labels that is virtually unknown in the United States, but is almost omnipresent on liquor store and market shelves in Europe, where it occupies the same pricing tier as scotches such as Ballantine’s, Johnnie Walker Red Label, and Cutty Sark.
The label is named for a fellow who moved to Ireland in the 1880s in search of his fortune, a rather odd choice when you consider how many Irish were leaving the Emerald Isle for exactly the same reason. Things worked out well for Mr. Lawson, however, and he was soon in the spirits trade. His employers launched a scotch label under Lawson’s stewardship and bearing his name. Despite some trouble with the Great Depression and the Second World War, this label is still with us today.
It was that trouble and how William Lawson’s dealt with it that makes the scotch a worthy historical note. Lawson’s reportedly moved to Liverpool after the war, before moving back to Scotland in the 1970s. This makes Lawson’s a rare example of a whiskey-maker moving from Scotland to England and then back to Scotland.
William Lawson’s has a rather ordinary light straw coloring in the glass. Like so many whiskeys with an unremarkable appearance, Lawson’s comes in a green glass bottle, but at least the screw cap is metal instead of plastic. The scotch is bottled at 40% alcohol. There is no aging statement on the label.
The nose of the scotch is light and subdued, with a somewhat floral character and a hint of wood underneath. The flavor is sweetly grainy, with a touch of vanilla and a bit of dried fruit flavor. The finish is quite light, with that woody hint from the nose reappearing.
In Europe, I often find William Lawson’s on the shelf for 9 or 10€. Insofar as I know, William Lawson’s is not available in the United States.