So, Cutty Sark. Apparently they heard you running your mouth about old man blends being on their way out and decided to make a product just for you.
Maybe we can be kind and call Cutty Sark something like a "legacy" blend. In truth, I think it's the scotch equivalent of a Buick: a dead brand to everyone save for a handful of loyalists and a few guys who never got the memo. I read a Harper's article that said the brand is growing rapidly in "new markets." Whenever I read this, I assume that some guy in Azerbaijan is super excited to finally be drinking what the Scots are, not knowing that the first world now regards the blend with apathy. At best.
But enough about Cutty. Let's talk about the Cutty Prohibition, which gives us a reason to care in a market where we're spoiled by choice. According to K&L Wines, the Prohibition Edition is a blend of whiskies made entirely from single malt from Highland Park, Glenrothes, Macallan, and grain whisky from the North British distillery. That's quite a pedigree. And at 50% ABV, they certainly aren't cheaping out on you by watering anything down.
Personally, I think this stuff tastes great. Drinking it at full strength is certainly doable, where you'll be hit with full-strength lemon, followed by no small shortage of caramel and toffee. The Prohibition has quite a bit of body with far less tongue burn than one would expect at this ABV. That said, I suspect most will find the dram a little more easygoing at about 43 to 46% ABV thanks to a splash of water: this stuff swims very well. Now, the lemon drop flavors really begin to wave hello and a natural honey / caramel sweetness intensifies. The clarity of these tastes is rather incredible at this price point.
As for the finish, it's fairly short, but a tingle of oak on the roof of the mouth reassures you that you are indeed drinking whisky. The grain isn't harsh, nor is it hot at the back of the throat, which elevates it above most other blended scotches by default. Certain sips end with a tiny bit of pleasant bitterness not unlike breakfast tea.
The caveat with all of this is that you have to have a tolerance for grain whisky's lighter character. Some might find the style boring, but on the whole the Prohibition provides some good, light flavors. It's a little nutty, a little malty, a little citric—I think it's subtle and cohesive. Others might argue the fair point that as we edge towards the $30 price point, the Cutty Prohibition begins to compete with more assertive entry-level single malts and should be judged accordingly.
Personally, I'd take this over the entry level "big glens"—that is, Glenlivet and Glenfiddich 12. It's blended scotch whisky, definitely, but a good example of what the style is capable of.