scotsmac (1)


Scotsmac – A Blend Of Mature British Wine with the flavours of Fine Malt Whisky – £3 (about $6) for 700ml

On my recent trip to Scotland I came across a bottle of an alcoholic beverage that bemused me no end. I was wandering around a supermarket in the fortified wine section, looking for some dry Marsala to make turkey gravy, when my eyes fell upon what looked to be a bottle of inexpensive Scottish whisky.

Well, it certainly looked Scottish, what with its packaging of cute little thistles, and picture of a lonesome castle by a loch, and the name… what could be more Scottish than Scots – Mac. Closer inspection revealed something much more curious… it was what appeared to be a whisky-fortified wine? WTAF?

Scotsmac is, as the label proclaims, a blend of mature British wine and fine malt whisky. For the record, I have also discovered labels without the “mature” and “malt” descriptors, and whiskey spelled with an “e”, so I guess that they change the recipe/labelling according to the availability of said ingredients?

British Wine, for those of you unaware of the term, bears no relation whatsoever to English wine, some of which is garnering some stellar reviews and recommendations. No, British Wine is a term used to describe an alcoholic beverage that is made in Britain by fermenting grape or indeed any other kind of juice or concentrate from anywhere in the world.

An annotated picture of the Scotsmac label courtesy of The Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation.

An annotated picture of the Scotsmac label courtesy of The Institute for Alcoholic Experimentation.

At the bottom of the front label it is stated that Scotsmac is “Based upon an original recipe”.

You bet it is.

Who in their right mind would think to fortify a British wine, or a wine of any sort for that matter, with whiskey or whisky, whether it be a fine malt or not? I mean, that is just so wrong in so many, many ways. When one looks at the facts, this stuff is an utter abomination.

In doing some research on Scotsmac I discovered that it has actually been available for decades, going back to the 60s, and so I was slightly confused as to why it had never crossed my horizon previously during my first 24 years in the UK. It then dawned on me that I had never seen it upon a shelf, but had spied it many a time crushed underfoot in the gutters of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London, the bottle’s broken glass clinging to its tattered, soggy, ersatz whisky label. Yes, Scotsmac falls into the same category as Thunderbird, as it is a favoured tipple of many a gentleman of the street.

So how does it taste?

Well… if you are the kind of person who likes to sniff their hand after filling up at the gas/petrol station, then Scotsmac is definitely for you. The palate is almost exactly what one would expect, akin to a mistaken pour of industrial Pinot Grigio into a tumbler of the very cheapest of blended whisky… then imagine adding two tablespoonfuls of high-fructose corn syrup coupled with the the white hot burn of 15% of rough and raw ethanol. Expect a prolonged finish of whisky-induced reflux. Yes, it really is that vile.

Avoid at all costs.

Zero apples out of five.

Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And sometimes he suffers so as you don’t have to.