October 31, 2018
UFC phenom Connon McGregor’s highly anticipated fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov concluded with an unexpected tap out from a McGregor and a more controversial out-of-the-ring action as Nurmagomedov jumped out and launched an attack at McGregor’s team. This goes to show how quickly a landmark bout can turn sour in the eyes of fans and critics alike.
We tasted – Proper 12 - McGregor’s highly talked about whiskey, for a glimpse of redemption beyond all this disarray. We are just as disappointed.
Don’t get us wrong. We are huge fans of McGregor. The guy is a combination of brutal power and flamboyant showmanship. His memorable first foray in UFC (which resulted in a win against Marcus Brimage), his blink-of-an-eye win against José Aldo (the fight ended in a mere 13 seconds), the circus he created with Floyd Mayweather Jr., his longstanding rivalry with Nate Diaz, and lately, the caustic and nasty road leading to his match with Nurmagomedov.
That's why we were all excited, - no, we were hysterical - when it was announced that Mystic Mac will be launching his own line of whiskey.
Branded as Proper No. Twelve (a callback to McGregor’s hometown, Crumlin which is situated in Dublin 12) was conceptualized by the UFC fighter himself and created with the help of David Elder no less, the famed master distiller from Guinness. McGregor aims to "make an Irish whiskey emblematic of Irish culture as a whole, and something that would showcase the great skill we possess of distilling the best whiskey in the entire world."
And truly enough, the whiskey culture in Ireland is one of the best in the world. It is not exactly a conundrum why the Notorious wants to cash in on that.
Prior to his bout with Nurmagomedov, McGregor officially launched his brand at the tune of $53 a bottle, of which five bucks from every crate sold is going straight to first-responder organizations and charities. And the hype we expected was real. The bottles are flying quickly off the shelves like the UFC star's punches. The demand in Ireland is so high, Tesco stores have to initiate a limit on how many bottles it will sell in each day, lest it will be sold out quickly. "Due to popular demand, unfortunately Proper 12 whiskey is limited to two bottles per customer per day," reads a sign spotted in one of the stores.
Now that the dust of the tumultuous fight is beginning to settle (with very depressing consequences for both parties), we finally tried to sample McGregor's heavily publicized whiskey. And we are convinced we have a second round of disillusionment.
It was advertised to have “hints of vanilla, honey-like sweetness and toasted wood,” and we can confirm that on the initial nose. There was a floral aroma with some menthol and caramel scattered around. Proper No. Twelve knows how to set the anticipation very well.
However, we wished it stayed that way, as it was the only good thing we encountered. When the liquid swirled in our palate, it told a different story, a betraying one. One flavor stood out, it was alcohol, and we mean not the good kind, but the rubbing alcohol kind. Worse, we can sense the deliberate effort to mask it with watered down sweetness and artificial almond flavoring.
We tried to dilute it a little bit, hoping to get the inner workings of its components. A chance for a more balanced review. Some Irish whiskeys can be too intimidating straight from the bottle. McGregor's magnum opus might be one of them. And alas, it is just as bad. The turpentine musk still lingers. There are poorly made whiskeys, and there’s this one.
But do not take just our word for it. Other reviews echoed our disenchantment with McGregor's creation as well.
Business Insider, not pulling their punches, said: “It smelled like ethanol and tasted only marginally better.” Bloomberg never held back either, saying there are “notes of turpentine interlaced with the musk from a crowded, poorly-maintained Turkish bathhouse sauna.” The Irish Times is a bit kinder with their prose, stating that they “spent a long time trying to get more out of the whiskey but other than a bit of nuttiness, and quite a lot of tannin, there is not much there.” Potstilled, on the other hand, turned their sights on the bottle, adding that it has an “incredibly strange and slippy texture and ended up with a strange gloss finish to it, making the whole bottle look weird from afar.”
In the hindsight, celebrities were able to effectively carry over their charm and success in the spirits business. George Clooney has the $1 billion-worth Casamigos Tequila, Danny Devito prides himself of his Limoncello, Ryan Reynolds flaunts his Aviation Gin, and Marilyn Manson’s Mansinthe has been well-received.
Unfortunately, this is one of those arenas McGregor cannot conquer. Proper No. Twelve is very far removed from the swag, talent, and indomitable style the UFC star always exude. No doubt, it sold fast as Dana White predicted. But the question now is will people buy it again?
Given, Proper No. Twelve knows how to set the mood. We admit the initial sniff caught us off guard, as it promised a firework of flavors as explosive as the man who created it. However, that promise crumbled down as you continue to step in and find out more. Coincidentally, this perfectly reflects the narrative of how McGregor’s last much-hyped brawl went on.
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