Our Take

It Came From the Bottom Shelf V

Bryan Dent
Written by Bryan Dent

Thin, watery and grainy, Scoresby Blended Scotch Whisky doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. Overpriced even for the bottom shelf, this monster attempts to overcome its defects by slinging as much bullshit at gullible customers as it can get away with.

The insults begin on the label. Named after nobody, the bottles nevertheless feature an intricate, bogus family crest. Then there’s the claim, in ALL CAPS, that Scoresby is VERY RARE — so rare, in fact, that I could only find a dozen bottles of it at my neighborhood Shop n’ Save supermarket. The further claim that Scoresby is designed “to please the exacting taste of the connoisseur” is so outlandish you wonder how they get away with it.

Scoresby is apparently not sold in Scotland, where there are plenty of exacting scotch connoisseurs who would laugh it out of the country if it were. Scoresby was surreptitiously introduced in the U.S. in the early 1970s, according to the New York Times, exclusively in the test market of California and without any fanfare or advertising to support it. At the time it was 86 proof and dirt cheap (the proof has gone down and the price has gone up since those good old days) and it managed to attract a modest following on the coast.

Two decades later, then-owner Glenmore Distilleries boosted Scoresby with its first-ever advertising campaign: Print-ad pop art cartoons in the style of Roy Lichtenstein, connected to a promotion for the much-hyped 1990 film “Dick Tracy“:

Scoresby broke out of the West Coast after that, although it doesn’t seem to have gotten any more advertising since the early 90s. It’s managed to hang on all these years in spite of itself — and, I’m sad to say, can claim to be the best-selling scotch in the state of California today.

If the occasion calls for blended scotch for mixing cocktails, and if bottom shelf it must be, there are better options than Scoresby. How about Clan MacGregor? It has a cooler-sounding name (seriously, who decided “Scoresby” would be a good name?), it’s cheaper, and it bears a more noticeable resemblance to scotch than Scoresby. Leave this pretentious swill to its delsuions of grandeur, and to those exacting connoisseurs who get taken in by it.





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Bryan Dent

Bryan Dent

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