Old Blends: Hudson’s Bay “Best Procurable”, 1950s

Here is the third in my slow motion series of reviews of blended whiskies from earlier eras. (See here for my review of an old Dewar’s White Label, and here for a review of a King George IV bottled in the 1940s or 1950s.). I don’t know much about this Hudson’s Bay brand, except that I think it was made for the US market and that while this particular bottle was released in the 1950s, the brand is still around. And if it ever had a strong reputation, it’s not exactly high-end whisky now: you can get a 1.75 liter bottle of the current Hudson’s Bay for not much more than $20. (I am, of course, assuming it’s the same brand.) Then again, I really liked the older Dewar’s White Label despite finding the current version to be bordering on undrinkable; and so I’m not assuming anything about this one. Well, let’s see what it’s like.

Hudson’s Bay “Best Procurable” (43.4%; 1950s release; from a bottle split)

Nose: Yeasty, vegetal, slightly rubbery—very similar to the 1950s Dewar’s White Label, except minus the sherry. Gets a bit plasticky as it sits. With time the astringent notes back off a bit but nothing more interesting/pleasant takes their place. With a drop of water there’s a bit of aniseed and the vegetal note moves in the direction of rye bread.

Palate: Not as yeasty/vegetal here; instead there’s some peppery peat. Not much beyond that though. Again, a surprising bite at 43.4%, especially considering how long it’s been in the bottle. With a lot more time and air there’re some hints of citrus but they never quite make it all the way out. Gets more and more peppery as it goes. Not much change here with water.

Finish: Medium-long. The peppery notes take a while to fade. Water keeps the cracked pepper going longer.

Comments: Another old blend that has quite a bit of peat in it. Unlike the Dewar’s, this also seems to have a fair bit of grain whisky in it. The nose again reminded me of contemporary Tobermory. An interesting experience—and it gets better with time—but this is not an old blend that’s going to send you chasing down old blends at auction. Much better though, I’m sure, than the current version—and no, I’m not going to spend money to confirm that one way or the other.

Rating: 82 points.


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