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Buchanan’s Master vs Deluxe: A Deep Dive Into Two Iconic Scotch Blends

June 30, 2023
2 mins read
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Key Takeaways:

  • Buchanan’s Master and Deluxe are two unique blended whisky expressions from the house of James Buchanan & Co.
  • Both blends have their own distinctive tasting profiles and offer unique experiences.
  • The choice between Master and Deluxe hinges on individual taste preferences and expectations from a Scotch whisky.

The Journey of Buchanan’s Whisky

Founded in 1884 by James Buchanan, Buchanan’s whisky has stood the test of time, establishing itself as a prominent player in the blended Scotch whisky world. The Buchanan brand name is extremely popular, notably in South America and Mexico, and is part of the vast Diageo Group. Two of its most popular expressions are Buchanan’s Master and Deluxe.

Our focus here is the comparison of the two — Buchanan’s Master vs Deluxe — analyzing their unique characteristics and the sensory journey they offer to whisky enthusiasts.

Buchanan’s Master: The Student of the Craft

Buchanan’s Master is a personal creation of Keith Law, the current Master Blender of Buchanan’s, launched in 2010. At the heart of this blend lies the Dalwhinnie Single Malt from the Eastern Highlands.

Tasting Notes:

The Master presents an amber color and an intricate nose. The fragrance offers an explosion of orange, mandarin, dried fruits, and nuts. There’s also an intricate blend of oak, cereals, toast, straw, and heather. Toffee and hints of peat, smoke, leather, apple vinegar, dark chocolate, and sherry complete the nose’s profile.

The palate starts with a slightly thin and sugary sweet delivery accompanied by cereals, nuts, and dried fruit. Light notes of vanilla and honey dance with oak, straw, orange, lemon, pepper, cloves, light licorice, and subtle hints of smoke and black coffee.

The finish is on the shorter side, echoing the sweet palate with additional sugared cereals, nuts, straw, oak, toast, orange marmalade, light vanilla, light honey, licorice, pepper, cloves, and hints of peat and dark chocolate.

However, the Master doesn’t blend well with water. While the nose gets more cereals, oak, nuts, chocolate, and mandarin with water, the palate and finish don’t fare as well. The best way to enjoy it is neat or on the rocks.

Buchanan’s Deluxe: The Dependable Classic

On the other hand, the Deluxe is a 12-year-old blend, offering a different tasting experience compared to the Master.

Tasting Notes:

Unfortunately, the Deluxe doesn’t share the same complex nose profile as the Master. It leans more towards a classic Scotch profile with pronounced notes of malted barley, toasted bread, subtle fruits, and a light hint of smoke.

The palate is smoother than the Master, yet less complex, with clear notes of fruit, caramel, and honey. There’s a touch of vanilla sweetness, oak, and a wisp of smoke on the palate.

The finish of the Deluxe is medium in length, carrying forward the oak and vanilla notes, coupled with a sweet spice warmth that lingers pleasantly.

Unlike the Master, the Deluxe carries its taste well with water, giving the palate a smoother and lighter feel, making it an ideal choice for those who enjoy a bit of water or ice with their Scotch.

Buchanan’s Master vs Deluxe: Which Reigns Supreme?

When comparing Buchanan’s Master and Deluxe, the Master stands a tad higher in terms of complexity and range of flavors. Yet, the Deluxe offers a smooth and classic Scotch experience that many whisky enthusiasts appreciate.

In terms of price-quality ratio, the Master rests somewhere between the Deluxe and the more refined Buchanan’s 18-year-old blend. While it outperforms the Deluxe in complexity, it falls short of the luxurious depth of the 18-year-old.

Ultimately, the decision between the two boils down to personal preferences. If you seek a Scotch with complex notes and an interesting palate, the Master is your choice. However, if you are after a classic Scotch experience with smoothness and consistency, the Deluxe would be your go-to blend.

Conclusion: Master or Student?

In the Buchanan’s Master vs Deluxe debate, we learn that the ‘Master’ may actually be more of a student — a student of the craft that is exploring, learning, and developing. Yet, it offers a sensory journey that is unique and commendable.

As for the Deluxe, it remains a dependable classic. While not as adventurous as the Master, it delivers a solid and reliable Scotch experience. In the end, both Buchanan’s Master and Deluxe hold their own in the world of blended Scotch whiskies, offering distinct and enjoyable experiences.

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