Mackinlay's VOB

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During a recent visit to GlenAllachie Distillery, together with some members of the Edinburgh Whisky Group, we were treated to an array of fantastic whiskies including a final dram in the boardroom.

But just as we walked in, just to the left of the door, on an occasional table, right next to the telephone, I noticed this bottle:

Of course, the first thing I did was give it a wee shake; 99% sure it would be empty but hopeful none the less. Alas, it didn't contain even the tiniest drop. But then something clicked in my menopausal brain: I remembered that I had a sample of Mackinlay's V.O.B at home. The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that the bottle at GlenAllachie Distillery states 'four generations' on the label whereas the bottle below states 'five generations'.

So, this sample is probably from the early 1960s and it came courtesy of Jason (Whisky Rover). He's already posted his thoughts on this whisky over on his fantastic Glen Mhor blog ( so there's no point reinventing the wheel and duplicating that information here. Just give it a read to find out much more about Mackinlay's and its involvement with Glen Mhor distillery.

However, as some of you reading this will know, various Mackinlay's expressions have featured regularly on the Leith Whisky Trail.

Mackinlay's Legacy, in its Jura-esque bottle has probably been the most featured. But there have also been bottles of The Original Mackinlay too. Most have been fairly solid with, perhaps, one notable exception: a bottle of Legacy which tasted a great deal like liquid mushrooms. Not that I've ever had liquid mushrooms, mind.

Although, undoubtedly, the good old days were also the inconsistent old days, this weird and not-so-wonderful flavour profile was more than likely due to the way the whisky had been stored over the decades rather than any production faults.

But returning to this (empty) bottle of Mackinlay's, you might well be asking yourself why it had found a home in the boardroom of GlenAllachie Distillery.

Well, Charles Mackinlay established his blending company in Leith way back in 1815. If we fast forward to 1961, we find that it was acquired by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries which, in turn, had been formed the previous year after the merger of Scottish Brewers and Newcastle Breweries. Not the most imaginative of rebranded company names, I guess. But what S&NB lacked in imagination, it made up for in acquisitions.

It had previously acquired a Newcastle based whisky blending and brewing company called John Ewan McPherson & Sons Ltd. And, the following year, in 1962, together with S&NB's wine and spirits arm, Mackinlays and McPherson merged to form the second most unimaginatively named rebrand: Mackinlay-McPherson Ltd. And it was this newly formed company which oversaw the construction of GlenAllachie Distillery in 1967.

But back to the V.O.B (which stands for Very Old Blended by the way). As Jason points out, two of the components are Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn. Both are lost distilleries and this goes some way to explaining why certain blends have seen a considerable increase in price on the secondary market of late. Of course, the more information that's out there, the better. But the knock on effect is that more people are aware of, for example, Old Guns containing Port Ellen; VAT69 containing Glen Esk; King George IV containing Rosebank etc etc and so the bidding war to secure those bottles becomes more fierce. 

Which is why it's good to have whisky pals like JJ. Because these days, the likelihood of me willingly staying up until 2am, because some random keeps bidding on a bottle of Glenlivet Founders Reserve and extending the entire auction into the early hours, is slimmer than a Weight Watchers success story.

Right, here we go...

Mackinlay's V.O.B - 70 Proof

Nose: hints of bruised red apples initially followed by papier-mâché notes; there's a juxtaposition of old leather notes and fresh fruit; after a while, it becomes remarkably fresh in the glass with notes of tinned clementines and green grapes; there are notes of old coins in the background throughout.

Palate: the texture is slightly thinner than expected but there's a definite oily quality to it; there's a slight bitterness and nutty flavour - something along the lines of chocolate covered peanuts; Haribo fried egg notes appear after a wee while and hints of blackcurrant appear in the finish.

Overall: this is well balanced whisky; much fresher than expected (although there are the obvious 'dusty' notes). I always maintain that blends of yesteryear weren't made to be over-analysed; they were made to be drunk and this is very much easy drinking.

Huge thanks to Jason for this sample of liquid history from Leith.


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