When I tell people that I write a whiskey blog, most respond with some variation of jealousy, envy, and awe. They envision all the delicious craft spirits to drink and the amazing distilleries to visit. And it’s true, there are definitely perks to this job. But what they don’t think about is the other end of the spectrum: the bottom of the shelf, where the whiskey only comes in litres (or larger) and flavor is a secondary consideration. Welcome to another expedition into that bottom shelf for the Banker’s Club Blended Scotch Whisky.
Laird & Company claim to be the oldest distiller in the country, and trace their heritage back to 1698. That year, Alexander Laird landed in what would become New Jersey from Scotland, where he had been a distiller, and he continued his work in the colonies by making his Apple Jack brandy. The original distillery was founded in 1717, located behind the Colt’s Neck Inn in Monmouth, and became so popular that reportedly even George Washington was writing the family to ask about their recipe.
That original distillery burned down in 1849, but a replacement was built by Robert Laird in Scobeyville (where it remains to this day). The family kept the distillery closed during prohibition, producing other apple-related products like applesauce to make ends meet, and eventually they were granted a license by the government to produce medicinal apple brandy in 1933.
Once prohibition ended, the family was in a great position to restart operations and business flourished. They expanded their business by purchasing two additional distilleries, one in Virginia and one in North Carolina.
The Laird family remains in control of the family owned business, which is currently run by Larrie W. Laird.
As for the Banker’s Club brand itself, there’s no indication of where that name came from.
Blended scotch whisky isn’t anything new — in fact, the majority of scotch consumed is in a blended format. Single malt scotch is actually a very recent development, and brands such as Johnny Walker were built on the idea of creating something delicious out of a mixture of quality whiskies.
In this case, what we have is a 100% blend of scotch whisky. Which is good, since some of this company’s other offerings are up to 80% neutral grain spirit filler. Here, every drop was created in Scotland and shipped to the U.S., where it was blended together and bottled.
That said… we don’t know much else about this bottle. Which specific distilleries did this whiskey come from? What regions? How old is it? All of this is a mystery.
The whiskey is apparently only sold in 1 litre and 1.75 litre versions, which is a rather ominous start. It’s never a good sign to see quantity over quality.
The bottle itself is a round non-descript plastic container. There’s a bit of a gripping area molded into the body, and a medium length neck topped with a built-in pourer to keep the whiskey from coming out too fast. That feature is prominently touted on the label — which makes you wonder about the quality of the spirit when a built-in pour spout is the real feature trying to sell you the bottle.
The label on the front is plain and uninteresting, with the most prominent feature being the Banker’s Club brand name. There’s a green horse head stamp up top and some gold medals on either side of the name, but there’s no indication of what those awards are actually for or when they were awarded. So it’s more likely than not, they’re nothing more than just a bit of embellishment.
The whole thing is topped with a plastic screw-on cap.
At first blush, it smells very much like a sweet blended scotch whisky. There’s a lot of the same honey and floral tones coming off the glass as I get with something like Glenmorangie — which is high praise, considering this Banker’s Club bottle costs about a fraction as much.
Taking a sip, there’s some good things in here… but there are also some structural problems.
Just like the aroma, I get a good bit of honey and some of that typical cereal flavor from the malted barley. It’s reminding me strongly of Honey Nut Cheerios, actually. There isn’t the same depth and complexity that I get from the higher shelf versions of scotch, but it’s not terrible.
I will note that, if anything, there’s only the slightest hint of peat smoke in this whiskey. It’s very close to Lismore in that aspect, focusing on the honey and the lighter flavors.
The structural issues come in the aftertaste. There’s a good bit of bitterness that creeps in on the sides of my mouth, like the tannins that you get with some red wines. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is something that would keep me from drinking too much of this neat.
Normally, with a bit of ice, the flavor practically disappears from a spirit. But in this case, it’s still a glass of Honey Nut Cheerios. The only changes that happen are purely improvements, namely that the tannin aspect of the spirit is pretty much completely gone.
Usually we don’t do cocktail reviews of scotch whisky (because that’s sacrilege for something like a bottle of Lagavulin), but I’d wager that this would work well in a Penicillin or a similar mixed drink. Just enough honey and malty goodness to add some depth and complexity.
With the sole exception of Evan Williams, every single bottle of 1.75 litre whiskey I’ve purchased, I’ve drank enough to review the spirit and then it’s gone straight down the drain. Until this one. This is actually not terrible. It’s got some flavor, it’s cheap as all get-out, and (with a bit of ice) there aren’t any real issues I have with it. For the price, it seems like a pretty solid option.
|Banker's Club Blended Scotch Whisky|
Produced By: Banker's ClubOwned By: Laird & Company
Production Location: Scotland
Classification: Blended Scotch Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $7.5 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 3/5
Leave it to a banker to give you exactly what you paid for and not a hair more.