Post image for Haig Club Review

Haig Club Review

by Oliver Klimek on October 8, 2014


My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark straw
Nose: Quite weak, mild caramel, hints of vanilla, whiffs of freshly cut flowers.
Palate: Typical young grain notes, vanilla, hints of tinned fruit and cloves, slighlty floral.
Finish: Short, slightly sweet and slightly spicy.
Overall: This feels halfway beween vodka and whisky, the mouthfeel is nicely creamy, though.

Rating: 68/100 – Price Tag $$$$$ – Value for your Money $$$$$


Diageo managed to convince David Beckham to endorse this product. Congratulations for this feat, even though this probably was not cheap. Celebrity endorsement usually has a positive effect on sales, but if it will eventually be successful depends on the product more than on the face connected to it.

The whisky comes in a blue bottle reminiscent of an after-shave. This already has sparked quite a bit of sarcasm which I will refrain from indulging in. I will focus on the liquid here.

Despite its marketing as a luxury spirit, Haig Club is simply a young – some would say immature – grain whisky from the Cameronbridge distillery. It is produced in the same stills that also make the cheap Gordon’s gin and the cheap Smirnoff vodka. It is an industrial product made in a place that can only be described as a big alcohol factory. The mention of the four centuries of distilling history of the Haig family ist just a handful of marketing fairy dust sprinkled into the readers’ eyes.

There is nothing remotely luxurious about that whisky itself. It is like Johnnie Walker Red or Black Label without the malt whisky; and both are significantly cheaper than the £45 asked for the Haig Club. Grain whisky of this age is the empty canvas that whisky blenders use to paint their creations on. It becomes a luxury product only by being named so, priced and marketed accordingly. Haig Club is about as luxurious as a £5 shirt with the Primark label replaced by one of Dior and sold for ten times the price.

While the presence of Victoria Beckham at the recent launch event may have improved the overall sensory experience of some of the male participants, drinking Haig Club neat in a less exclusive setting is a rather forgettable experience.

Of course Haig Club is primarily made as a cocktail ingredient for mixing, though. But I admit I have my problems to see a place for it. And I am not one of those often sneered-upon whisky snobs who condemn any alteration of their favourite tipple. I do love my cocktails, with our without whisky.

It is too flavourful to be used in classic vodka drinks like the Cosmopolitan, and it is too bland to be used in classic whisky drinks like the Manhattan. I am sure that some creative bartenders can mix tasty drinks with it, no doubt about that. But I do have my doubts that Haig Club will be able to gain the status of a staple cockatail base spirit in this highly competetitive market. It straddles between whisky and vodka but does not have a unique character of its own that would bring it on eye level with classic spirits like rum, brandy, tequila or gin.

Time will tell. But the high price tag will make it difficult for the Haig Club to compete with spirits that cost much less but can be the base for cracking mixed drinks. Until then, Diageo should hope that as few people as possible will become aware of how cheap a drink this actually is.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Burkay Adalig October 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

I had the chance to taste at the The Whisky Show last week in London.. My notes are almost excatly the same, quite disappointed and actually very surprised to see how “premium” this immature drink is positioned… At the Haig stand they werent willing to give it as a neat sample, they were really eager that I taste it with glass full of ice and then with Ginger Bitters and sparkling apple juice added.. As you rightly mentioned, weak even as a cocktail base…


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: