Morrison - Whisky from Aruba
Now what you see on this page, is basically some info that should, or could be placed under the section "Drinking Whisky", where I review my bottles and describe them. This time I do not think these reviews should be placed there, because the story is too long. It contains a quest for information and me acting like some kind of whisky detective. For this blog I dressed up like Sherlock, took out my magnifying glass and bit into the case. So let me begin: It all started on a vacation.
My adventure as a whisky detective
I like to see if I can find local whisky in any place I travel.
I did it in San Diego, in France and I did it on Aruba.
I was on a family vacation on Aruba, an island that is very dear to me and just happens to have some family members living there.
While visiting, my parents were vacationing on the "One Happy Island" as well. It actually was my father who mentioned it while sitting on the beach:
While doing groceries the day before, he noticed a wall of whisky. And since I just happen to really like whisky, he decided to take a look for me. And discovered something and shared his find with me. He advised me to take a look.
I decided to investigate and walked into another local supermarket to see if I could find this "whisky from Aruba". I quickly spotted the liquor department and found the bottles he mentioned.
On the shelves was a whole range of whiskies, all from the same brand. Morrison.
In spotted a blue label, a black label, a red-brownish label and a cream-colored label. They were all blends, but what made it more interesting was the sign that said "Aruba's whisky". Bottled and sometimes blended on Aruba.
I became curious. I had the 12 year old for some time. I tried it, cooked with it and finished it. I even received a new bottle when my nephew visited me. But the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to know where this whisky came from. A true detective hunt started. In what distillery was this produced? Are there any naming laws being broken if this whisky was indeed bottled on Aruba? (Since "scotch" can only be used by whisky produced and bottled in Scotland.)
A quick search for "Morrison distillery" on google gave me a website for Morrison distillers. Since the name was the same, I was on the right track. Or so I thought. After emailing them, I was informed that this product was not connected to them and did not came from their distillery. No relation there.
So my search continued. I decided to contact the Weststreet Liquor Company (WLC) on Aruba, the company that claimed to have bottled this whisky, and asked them who their distiller was. The label on the Black label bottle states that the brand itself is managed by MECS brands. Also a company on Aruba who had a much shinier website and a page about this whisky with video! Again I could not find the information I was lookin for, although I learned that it were all blends. So I contacted them as well. With no results (yet).
Now my "aged 12 years" bottle says that it was "under licence of CIMA brands". The first hit on Google is a website that looks to be taken down somewhere in 2021. So no option to contact there.
Because I was really curious about this now and committed to find an answer to my questions, I decided to contact the Scotch Whisky Association, since it was claimed they oversaw the production of this whisky. (According to WLC.) I explained why I contacted them and asked the same questions to see if they could assist me. And they did!
Regarding the distillery: Since the whole range consists of blended whiskies, they cannot pinpoint one distillery. I could come from the whole range of distilleries, in Scotland.
Regarding the whisky being bottled on Aruba: "Scotch Whisky must be distilled and matured in Scotland but, with the exception of Single Malt Scotch Whisky, it can be bottled outside Scotland at a facility verified by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the UK Customs Service. I note that West Street’s facility in Aruba has been verified as an overseas bottling facility: see here and that MORRISON is registered with HMRC as a verified brand of Scotch Whisky: see here. On that basis we are satisfied that the products are genuine and legally compliant."
A new lesson learned. Bottling outside Scotland is permitted if verified. Now one question remains: What distilleries in Scotland provided the whisky used in the blends sold by Morrison? I hope to figure that out somewhere in the future. Maybe I will get an answer to my email. If so, I will update this page!
Reviewing the stuff itself
When I looked at the shelf, back when I was on vacation, there was a wide selection. Now, you can get them in 0.2, 0.3, 0.7 and 1 liter bottles. Blue label, Black label, a "charred oak" with a burgundy label and a 12 year old blended malt. all are bottled at 40% VOL.
I decided to purchase the 12 year old (0,7 L) to take home with me.
Much later, I received a Black label as well.
Now both bottles are opened and tasted. Not just by me, but also by friends and family. And I might spoil the reviews below, but let me say this whisky is designed to mix something with. Preferably something with a lot of flavor and a lot of ice.
Morrison Black Label - very fine blended whisky
The Black label is a blended grain whisky.
According to the label, blended and bottled on Aruba.
(See the "Under license of MECS brands" on the label.
The whisky has a dark golden color. A twirl of the glass gives me a thin line, but almost no tears. It just flows back.
On the nose: At first: Paint thinner. After that: sour apple, honey, vanilla.
Taste: Spirit, al lot. After that: Oak, honey, cane sugar.
Finish: Very short. Spirit, nuts.
Morrison Aged 12 years - Blended Scotch Whisky
This bottle is the only "aged" whisky in the Morrison range.
It is one of the two labels that claim the title "Scotch whisky". (The other one is the Blue label.) Now this is the one I find interesting, since the label also claims that it is bottled on Aruba, but at the same time "produced in a manner specified by law".
Hence my quest for information mentioned above.
This whisky is a little lighter than the Black label, but not by much. A twirl of the glass gives a very thin line and some tears.
On the nose: Very light fruit notes of apple and pear. Vanilla and honey.
Taste: Balanced. Caramel, vanilla, oak and honey.
Finish: Short. Some hints of dried apricots. A little bitter chocolate.