Final Results: Taiwan 200 ml Midnight Whisky Run

Taipei Whisky Selection from 7-11

200 ml Whisky Selection at a Taiwanese 7-11

Truth be told, I went into this 200 ml Whisky Challenge a bit skeptical, expecting the worst.

Cheap blends really aren’t my bag baby.

But I came out of the whole shebang a believer in the power of cheap blends.

I discovered that for under NT$200, you can have yourself a pretty darn enjoyable blended-whisky-hullabaloo of an evening.

But when the rubber meets the road and you can only select one, which whisky do you choose?

Here’s a quick roundup of the competition:

McAdams Rye Whisky

McAdams Rye Whisky

Jim Murray called McAdams Rye Whisky “delicious stuff” when he reviewed it in his Whisky Bible.

I find a lot of his reviews to be spot on but the McAdams was pretty unremarkable and bland to my taste buds.

At NT$160 it’s overpriced in this talented field.

At NT$135, the price would be just about right.

Jim Beam (White Label) Bourbon

jim-beam-1l-435910

My rational on this one is pretty simple.
If you’re in the mood for a decent bourbon, pick up the Jim Beam.
You’ve got no other choice.

While I’m never overjoyed to spend a whole evening with Jim Beam (White) it certainly doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it has in some snobbish whisky circles.

Johnny Walker Red

Johnnie Walker Red Label

To be fair, Diageo states pretty clearly that they only recommend using this beast as a mixer, so it’s no surprise that Johnnie Red didn’t perform so well in this contest.

That being said, even if you’re making cocktails for the evening, at NT$159 Johnnie Walker Red is a bit overpriced.

You’re better off going with the Famous Grouse or one of the Suntory twins as a mixer.

Famous Grouse

A bottle of the Famous Grouse

Since the 1980s, Famous Grouse has been the #1 selling blended whisky in Scotland.
I’ve heard wonderful things about The Finest Grouse, The Black Grouse, and the 30-year expression but I don’t see the regular ole’ Grouse making it into the Jerk’s regular rotation of blended whiskies any time soon.

It’s charming for a grainy-blend but like the bird itself the Grouse has some trouble getting off the ground.

Johnnie Walker Black

johnnie-walker-black-review

I quite like Johnnie Walker Black but at this price you gotta be fucking kidding me.

JW black  can compete with the top dogs in this field but it’s nearly twice as expensive.

If you’re a die-hard Johnnie Black fan, go ahead and experiment with the Old Matisse or splurge for a full bottle of Johnnie Walker Black for a much better value.

Suntory Black Kakubin

Suntory-Kakubin-BlackLabel-suntory-43

It’s stronger than its yellow sibling but it lacks the finesse and flavor.

If these two laced em’ up and met in the squared circle, Suntory Black would be Foreman and Suntory Yellow would be as Ali.

Whether you’re mixing or sipping, spend the extra NT$5 (16 cents) and upgrade to the Suntory Yellow.

The Medal Round

Finally we get down to the nitty gritty and we have three horses running neck and neck down the home stretch.

In third place, the bronze medal winner is ….

Prime Blue

A bottle of Prime Blue Malt Blended Scotch Whisky

A lovely little vatted whisky that’s readily available in Taiwan (and throughout Asia) but it’s a little harder to come by in Europe, Canada, or the States.

Overall, it’s a nicely-balanced blend that is definitely worth a try.

And in second place, the silver medal goes to …..

Suntory Yellow Kakubin

 

Suntory-Kakubin-Yellow-review

Really enjoyable, nice introduction to Japanese blended whisky.

It’s got some hints of Irish pot-still goodness while still retaining its own character.

Which means …. the gold medal winner and NEW champion of convenience store whisky in Taiwan is

Old Matisse

A 200 ml bottle of Old Matisse whisky

Don’t let the conservative refined and classy marketing fool you.
This one’s got some funky stuff going on underneath the hood.
Like a chocolate-tier, chewier version of Johnnie Walker Black available at just a fraction of the price.

Dare I say I spotted a 700 ml bottle at the local Welcome Supermarket the other day for under NT$500.

How’s that for value?

Conclusion

So, in the end Old Matisse takes it in a photo finish.

But that’s just our opinion.

What do you think the best convenience store whisky is in Taiwan?

Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Very interesting to hear good things about both the Prime Blue and the Old Matisse. My go-to in this situation has always been the Suntory Yellow, but I’ll have to try those two. I also just noticed that they have 200ml bottles of Kavalan at Family Mart, which seems like a solid option.

  • Yeah, definitely give the Prime Blue and Matisse a go when you get a chance.I’d be curious to hear your take on them. Kavalan is a great choice but they might be a bit pricey in comparison to the others.BTW, the Kavalan distillery in Yilan is also worth visiting if you get a chance.

  • Looking forward to visiting the Kavalan distillery at some point soon. I just had the Matisse Old and really enjoyed it. I definitely got the same chocolate on the palate as you did.

  • John Urban

    I like Ballantines for the price when making a 711 run in Taiwan. It’s usually among the cheapest and is actually quite nice. I love Taiwan because a lot a decent whisky is much cheaper than it is in America. I can get a bottle of Johnny Walker Green Label for $25-$30 US at my local grocery store, or Famous Grouse 18 year old for $25.

    Just went to the Ka Va Lan distillery this past weekend and got some great bottles. I’ve become a big fan of them.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b39840c3a499a7ac484fec7eadf521a981f996f69b92ce7627301b9f34aaa5bf.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d506d4b6a81a4b88dcf385072af8983c881639bb6f8aa0df7045e35c7462bf40.jpg