Whisky Review: Orphan Barrel Muckety-Muck 26 Year Old

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.AΩ     

Diageo is one of the biggest spirits companies on the planet, and is easily the most significant distributor of Scotch – with two dozen brands under its umbrella, ranging from Johnnie Walker, Oban, and Dalwhinnie to Caol Ila, Talisker, and Old Parr. Roughly 40% of the world’s Scotch comes from a Diageo label.

But Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co. is supposed to offer small, intimate experiences rather than large-scale production. The label was started in 2014 with the express purpose of sharing “barrels of delicious and rare whiskey, hidden away and nearly forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries.”

Muckety-Muck is one of those Orphan Barrel releases, taking Scotch distilled by the now defunct Port Dundas Distillery, shipping the barrels to Tennessee, and bottling them there in new releases. Glasgow-based Port Dundas was at one time the largest distiller in Scotland, before Diageo shut it down in 2011.

In 2020, Orphan Barrel released a 24-year-old Scotch from the old Port Dundas barrels, in 2021 it released a 25-year-old, and late last year came the third and final installment: The Muckety-Muck 26 Year Old.

Scotch wasn’t the only thing cultivated at the Port Dundas site, however. Like other distilleries in Scotland through much of its history (Port Dundas was founded in 1811), the whiskey maker also had a piggery on-site. Supposedly, hundreds of farmed pigs on the site ate grains left over from the distillation process, and one prize-winning hog in the historical archive was named Muckety-Muck.

Muckety-Muck 26 features three pigs wearing Scottish tartans and in top hats on the labels, celebrating the prized hog and the trio of Port Dundas whiskies released under the new label. Six different versions of the bottle label are available for purchase, with the pigs donning tartans sash in a variety of colors and combinations.

Orphan Barrel Muckety Muck 26 Year review

We review Orphan Barrel Muckety Muck 26 Year, a single-grain Scotch distilled at the now-closed Port Dundas Distillery in Glasgow. (image via Diageo)

Tasting Notes: Orphan Barrel Muckety-Muck 26 Year Old

Vital stats: Single-grain Scotch distilled at the now-closed Port Dundas Distillery in Glasgow; mash bill of 100% malted barley; aged 26 years; 92 proof/46% alcohol by volume; $299.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Light tawny color, more orange than straw. Still light, however.

Nose: I really enjoyed the nose on this whisky. It smells sweet and fruity, reminiscent of the lowland Scotch that it is, having been distilled in Glasgow.  There’s nothing particularly complex about it, but it’s pleasant and inviting. Think poached pears with chocolate drizzled on top.

Palate: The straightforward, uncomplicated, sweet, and fruity tendencies we found in the nose continue in the mouth. This is an easy-going and sweet whisky, but disappears quickly. There’s no finish to speak of at all. A hint of spice tempers the sugary, fruity flavors. I tasted dark chocolate, tangy citrus, cloves, fruitcake, pecans, and lightly buttered toast.

Whisky Review: Orphan Barrel Muckety-Muck 26 Year Old


My Whiskey Wash colleagues who reviewed the 24 Year Old and the 25 Year Old Muckety Muck offerings weren’t particularly impressed. Talia Gragg two years ago and Margarett Waterbury last year each gave it three stars out of five, and I tend to agree with their assessment after tasting the 26 Year Old.

This is a perfectly acceptable lowland Scotch, and the packaging and presentation are top-notch. But I think you’d have to be a muckety-muck with some extra income, indeed, to want to pay $299 for a bottle.

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Scott Bernard Nelson

Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. Scott works in higher education these days, but he previously spent 22 years as a journalist, covering 9/11 in Manhattan, crossing into Iraq with U.S. Marines and contributing to The Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of sexual...