Cutty Sark Scotch Whiskey Review


By Richard Thomas

Rating: C-

Cutty Sark whiskey

Cutty Sark blended scotch whiskey

On April 25, 2012, the Cutty Sark was reopened to the public. This refers not to the whiskey or its distillery, but to the clipper ship museum located in Greenwich for which the whiskey is named. Built in 1869, Cutty Sark is a historic example of the height of clipper ship design, and worked in first the tea and then the wool trade for decades before becoming a training ship. Ending her days in the 1950s, Cutty Sark became a museum, but was badly damaged by a fire in 2007. The ship was already undergoing renovation at the time, and the British government eventually spent over £30 million fixing her up.

Cutty Sark the whiskey came into being when the vessel was finally retired. As the story goes, a pair of wine and spirits merchants were discussing their plans to market an international whiskey after prohibition was repealed in the United States with their friend, a Scottish artist named James McBey. It was McBey that suggested naming it after the clipper ship that was in the headlines. Cutty Sark was supposed the first light colored blended scotch, and its launch didn’t wait for the repeal of prohibition. Instead of waiting for prohibition to end, however, Cutty Sark got going in 1923, and was bootlegged into the country via the Caribbean and Florida.

The Whiskey
Bottled at 40% alcohol, Cutty Sark comes with a faux-metal plastic cap that straddles the horns rather than the fence. Plastic screw caps are cheap, but if a distiller wants to save some bucks and go that route, eh, what the hey. Some nice whiskeys have plastic caps. However, don’t try to disguise the cheapness with something styled like metal. That just lacks confidence, to say nothing of class.

Cutty Sark carries no aging statement, and is aged in American oak barrels. The core of this blend is Speyside single malt, married to grain whiskey.

That said, Cutty Sark achieved its object of light color, having a pale gold look in the glass. The scent of the whiskey is a pleasant sea spray with undertones of woodiness. The flavor is a muted vanilla sweetness with strong undertones of oak. The finish is dry, clear, of middling length and somewhat warm.

Overall, I found Cutty Sark pleasant enough for what it is. If you find its qualities attractive and have a few more bucks, however, I recommend The Famous Grouse instead.

The Price
In the States, a fifth of Cutty Sark will typically run you less than $20. In Europe, I often see the whiskey priced for 10 or 11 euros. It’s cheap stuff, and not bad for the price.

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  1. Ship’s cat, an honorable occupation back in the day.

  2. I am Eleni Grammenou and this drink is mine(my favourite)!!!!!!

  3. Few scotches at this price point are worth buying. I’ve tried Vat 69, Black & White, Famous Grouse, 100 Pipers and William Lawson’s Scotch respectively but, Cutty Sark is the best out of this bunch in my opinion. Cutty’s is easy drinking, has an inoffensive taste and smell, and is endlessly enjoyable as a mixer. It does not burn the back of your throat like some of the others that I’ve mentioned here or give you a brain bending hangover the morning after. It’s not complex in taste either but, at this price point don’t expect it to be, nor does it need to be. At this price point I’ve been searching for a good easy drinking scotch that you could happily enjoy, serve to friends without being embarrassed as well use as a good mixer in cocktails. I recommend drinking it on ice with some club soda and a little lemon wedge in a highball glass. I think Cutty’s would appeal to both men and women because of its easy drinking nature, I would say this though, it goes down damn great after a good day at the driving range. In South Africa, which is where I’m from, it goes for at todays exchange rates the equivalent of $11 US. I wonder how popular it is in the US though?

  4. Correction on the price, bought two bottles yesterday at the equivalent of $10.40 US. Fantastic stuff!

    • Thanks for leaving the pricing note. Where did you find that deal?

      We base our price information on research from as many sources as possible to create a typical snapshot, but obviously we can’t cover everywhere at all times 🙂

  5. I purchase my liquor from Checkers Liquor Store, Spar Tops and Pick N Pay Liquor stores. The two bottles of Cutty Sark that I bought were not on special offer, $10.40 is the regular price and I bought them from checkers liquor store. Type in the store names in google and you should find their websites.

    Generally I buy from Checkers more frequently because they are cheaper than the other two stores that I mentioned but, Spar Tops has great weekly special offers as well.

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