By Richard Thomas
Dating back to the 1970s, Pig’s Nose is proof that blended Scotch doesn’t need to be either old or expensive to be good. Concocted by third-generation Whyte and Mackay master blender Richard Paterson, it is the second label from Spencerfield Spirits, the company set up by former Glenmorangie marketing director Alex Nicol. Mr. Nicol reportedly took the brand with him when he left Whyte and Mackay, and this is what he made of it. Unlike other, more modern efforts at producing good blended Scotch, such as Compass Box’s Great King Street, Pig’s Nose manages to deliver quality without being pricey, showy stuff.
So many of this whiskey’s outward characteristics emphasize its deceptive modesty. It’s a five year old, and the bottle sports a retro 1970s label and an ordinary metal screw-top. Inside, however, it is 40% malt whiskey, an unusually high proportion for a blended scotch, but a high malt proportion is a hallmark of most of the artisanal blends I’m acquainted with. The malts come from the Lowlands, Speyside and Islay, with the grain side coming from Invergordon. The Scotch is bottled at 40% abv.
The name “Pig’s Nose” is derived from its easy, mellow character. As it says on the label, “‘Tis said our scotch is as soft and smooth as a pig’s nose.”
In the glass, the whiskey has a clear, gold coloring. The nose has a rich, oily texture, and the main scent reminded me of nothing so much as warm butterscotch. Add in a little wood and a little pine, and have a deep smell with a nice, modest character. The palate delivers more of that rich, creamy butterscotch, with the attendant toasty, dry wood from the nose. The flavor also has a hint of ash, and a pinch of pepper. The finish is a moderate one, delivering some warmth and some peppery afterglow.
Pig’s Nose is a mid-bodied Scotch, and while it is somewhat complex, the principal characteristics here are how mellow and relaxed it is.
What makes this Scotch a real winner is the price tag. It’s listed for £21.50 on the Spencerfield Spirits website, and usually goes for $28-30 a bottle in the United States. If you know your whiskey prices, you will recognize that Pig’s Nose is on par with most small batch Bourbons, if not a little cheaper. You’ll be hard pressed to find a artisanal blended Scotch, or just about any Scotch for that matter, that is this good and at that low a price.