The chance that you’ve heard from Label 5 is quite big, it’s among the top 10 of best selling Scotch whisky in the world! The funny part is that it is Scottish made, but owned by the French (La Martiniquaise Company). So if you’d think that the French only drink Cognac and Calvados you’re only half right. In 1969 whisky had a huge commercial boom and La Martiniquaise (further abbreviated in this article to La Mart) lit a Gauloise, shrugged its shoulders and said: ” Pourquoi pas?”. They launched the Label 5 blend and the French loved it, quickly followed by no less than a hundred more countries. In 2004 they built their own blending company, in 2008 they bought Glen Moray Distillery (the base whisky for Label 5) and in 2010 they opened the Starlaw Grain Distillery in Bathgate, the first green-field grain distillery in Scotland in 40 years.
And now they have launched a Label 5 Single Grain Whisky (with grain distilled solely at Starlaw we presume). Before we continue a quick reminder of what ‘single grain whisky’ actually means. It’s actually very simple: it is whisky made from any other grain than barley or (more commonly) from a combination of barley with any other grain. So it actually means the exact opposite of what it reads: single grain whisky is made from more than one type of grain. the ‘single’ part denotes that it is made in one and the same distillery (as opposed to blends) . Single malt whisky is made purely from malted barley and produced in a single distillery.
So besides malted barley, the Label 5 Single Grain probably contains corn and wheat distilled at Starlaw’s and left to mature in Bourbon barrels for four or five years (not sure about the age). Technically it leans a lot towards Bourbon actually and the taste is likewise. Flavourwise I would say it’s like a bridge between Bourbon and Scotch Whisky and it makes an ok Old Fashioned I must add. It’s fruity, sweet (but not too sweet) with strong hints of vanilla, some coconut even and rather spicy in the aftertaste. I think it has more character than the Classic Black from Label 5. It’s not the most complex whisky there is, of course, but hey, at under 20€ you can’t complain. This is the kind of bottle I’d put on the table when your friends are over and you put on the television to watch the French XV Tricolores play against the Scottish Thistles!