I suppose we should start with what's probably most obvious here—the bottle—since it's the most interesting thing about this blended scotch. That's a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.
The Dimple Pinch 15 has something of a strange legacy in that the Haig company was the first in the US to trademark a bottle back in 1958. Johnnie Walker Swing has a similar bottle that was engineered to solve a problem with transatlantic sea voyages: namely, that cylindrical bottles tip over and then roll all over the place if they don't break. If a bottle is constructed so it doesn't irritate deck hands, all the better, I suppose.
The whole "liquor for long sea trips" was what I assumed was happening with the design of the Pinch bottle until I saw the trademark date. I really don't have any idea of the real-world utility of a non-rollable bottle in modern times—aside from being kind of neat. If you're ham-fisted and knock it over, this is maybe a good thing. I don't often knock my bottles over, and pouring out of an oversized triangle is a tad awkward, so it's not a major selling point.
So what's more interesting to me is the reputation that the Dimple Pinch has as an up-market product. In truth, I pilfered a bottle from my dad's liquor cabinet when I moved out on my own about 11 or 12 years ago. At that time, I was just getting into spirits in general and figured it would have a better home at my new place.
So why did it live at dad's house for so long? Why did he even buy it at all, whenever it was that he bought it? His words: "I wanted to have a good whisky if a friend came over and wanted to drink whisky."
"Who do you know that drinks whisky besides me?"
"Well, I don't know. A guest or something," he said. But know this about my dad: he has never once thrown a party in his life that I can remember. So basically, to him, the Dimple Pinch 15 was the equivalent of a fire extinguisher or an emergency radio. Something handy to have just in case, but something most at home sitting at the back of a cabinet for years on end. Come to think of it, a house fire would have been more likely than my dad having a gathering where the Dimple Pinch would get some attention.
I didn't think much of the Pinch until Breaking Bad made a big point of making it Walter White's drink of choice, and I realized at that point the vague esteem toward the brand might be generational. Maybe this was the upper echelon of whisky in a time where choices were limited, just in the same way that dad recalls stories of Heineken being a "fancy" thing to bring to a party.
Different times, I suppose. On one hand, the $30 price point of the Dimple Pinch is pretty fair for a decent, age-stated product at least 15 years old. On the other hand, there's an awful lot that it's contending with, and now (as I did then) I find it mostly forgettable.
The Dimple Pinch 15 smells fairly inviting with cherries, prunes, and molasses. The tasting experience of it all is just fair. Not good, not bad, but fair. It's hot and maple-forward, with some pancake and bread pudding flavors. But there's also kind of a strange potato-sort of starchiness that comes forward now and again. It has banana and sugar on the exit, but also a surprising amount of bitterness. That vegetal character comes back with a bit of mustiness, lending a sort of mushroom aftertaste.
Haig says that Glenkinchie and Linkwood are two of the core malts in this blend, but I've also read some 30-odd whiskies go into this, so it's hard for me to pick either out. All in all, it's basically vague and rounded with no one flavor dominating past the prunes and dates.
Again, it's fair, but I think you can do a lot more damage with $30.