The Red MacGregor | Orkney Brewery

very good
142 Reviews
no score
Send samples
The Red MacGregorThe Red MacGregor

Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery
Scotland, United Kingdom

Style: Scottish Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Red Macgregor is a unique beer: delicate and sophisticated yet the robust cask conditioned version of this beer was the first Scottish beer to win the BIIA World Cask Beer Gold Medal.

On the nose, this ruby-red beer is delicate, floral and fruity, with notes of violets, cherries, toffee and caramel.

On the palate, the fruits combine with a juicy malt character and hints of toasted malt, with a biscuit malt and spicy hop finish.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-09-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 142 | Ratings: 233
Photo of bobhits
2.55/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice looking red ale color, good carbonation, a bit of a lack of bubbles in the body, clarity could be better considering it’s 4% abv.

Not much to speak of. Amber malt and a hint of earthy hops.

Toasty bread and caramel malt, spicy hops. I know this is low abv, I know it should be refreshing and not over powering in flavor. But really this is it?

Extremely drinkable, even ding would approve calling this a session beer.

I was hoping for something else something more. I’ve had this beer many times only done a good bit better.

 549 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
2.72/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice reddish brown with a fluffy head. Leaves good lace.
Smell is where it breaks down. Took forever to find any smell at all and then only some malt and light hops. Even after drinking 1/2 the glass I couldn't get more than that.
Taste was decent with hops, a fruity malt taste and a little winey character to it.
Mouthfeel was smooth with light carbonation, a medium body and a light finish.
Drinkability: drinks easily but not much aftertaste (or flavor or smell). This brew looks good but doesn't really deliver on its promise.

 543 characters

Photo of Brent
2.86/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Overall, a pretty underwhelming beer. Poured a nice ruddy brown. For some reason, I expected this to be more of a red ale (I guess the power of suggestion of the name). Lackluster for a pale ale, and not beefy enough for a red. Mouthfeel was average, while the flavor was rather thin. A touch of sour lactic acidity lurking in the background with a hint of medicinal flavor. Finish was a touch sweet with some caramel malt.

 423 characters

Photo of RoyalT
2.89/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance – Clear and red in the body with a foaming head that went down rather quickly.

Smell – The malt base is complimented by some rather offbeat fruits. I’m finding grapefruit, grapes, some orange, and a few others that I can’t quite pin down. There’s also a bit of table sugar and a small citrus hop balance.

Taste – What too light at the taste, IMO. The rather sharp nose wimped out in a big way here. The malt turned our thin, almost grainy, with no fruit. Also, the hops skipped the party as well. Very disappointing.

Mouthfeel – Light in the body and flat with a very thin mouthfeel.

Drinkability – I won’t buy this again.

 654 characters

Photo of pinotboy007
2.95/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Auburn with a decent cap that descends quickly and leaves some spotty lace. No visible carbonation.

S - Peat, tea, leather.

T/M - Peat, leather, raw honey, a touch of bitter hops. Very light carbonation but it comes across as diluted.

D - Nothing worth seeking out - perhaps it's better from the cask in the UK but I think it suffers on the trip across the drink.

 371 characters

Photo of ckollias
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Enjoyed this bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Pours a cloudy ruby reddish brown hue with a thin white head that quickly dissipates into a wispy lace.

S: Interesting aroma – hard to say exactly what it smells like – but it really doesn’t smell all that great. It has a musty sort of spicy fruity aroma with hints of toasted malts.

T: Similar to the smell the beer tastes of toasted malts, caramel, spices, and fruits (mostly cherries).

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Not my favorite beer by Orkney Brewery. The flavor and aroma were a little different and slightly off.

 598 characters

Photo of Guinness4me
3.06/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not as impressive as I expected from my beloved Orkney brewery, but a good beer. It poured a near crimson-orange with a slight head that left a minimal ring of lace.

The nose denotes the hoppiness of a pale ale with slight haunts of fruit and malt.

The taste was neither spectacular nor awful, but a pleasant brew that went from mildly hoppy, to a tart fruit to bitterness on the back of my tongue. I would have like to have tasted a little more malt. The aftertaste was sweet and minimal.

The mouthfeel was pleasant as well with quick, mild carbonation at the tip of my tongue.

While not spectacular, it's quite easy to drink.

 639 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.06/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Red MacGregor... isn't. It's more a dark orange-brown, tawny some would say. The dark cream colored head is firm with a furiously pitting surface and a stickiness that is proven by thick, broken sheets of pocked lace. The persistent, two finger cap of foam is keeping me from assessing the nose properly, but I'm a patient man.

This beer has an odd aroma and not an especially pleasant one. There's a sort of musty earthiness that reminds me of some sort of vegetable in freshly dug soil. I'm not sure which of the ingredients is responsible (probably the malt), but in the end it isn't powerful enough to be off-putting and is easily ignored. I'm done smelling it anyway.

The flavor contains the same mild unpleasantness, although, again, it doesn't completely ruin the experience. Red Mac is lightly malted and lightly hopped. What's left is a modestly sweet and sour flavor (unripe raspberries?) that I'm having trouble describing adequately.

The bottle is emptying quickly, not because I'm enjoying the beer, but because I'm trying in vain to get a handle on the way it tastes. I give up, let's just say that there's no way that this beer is a pale ale. A red ale comes closer to the mark. (Hell of a review ain't it? I bet you can practically taste the beer as you read the vivid, precise description of each nuance of the flavor profile).

The Red MacGregor is not a beer that I can recommend. Orkney brews some good ones, but this is definitely not one of them. Cool label though.

 1,503 characters

Photo of jar2574
3.09/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The bottle design has changed. It now says "5000 years in the making" and has a picture of cliffs and an ocean rather than a dude with a sword.

Pours with a decent head. Brown, pretty dense but light does get through. The best thing about this beer is the lacing on the way down.

Hardly any smell. Maybe a tiny touch of sweet malts.

This is beer is more malty than hoppy. There is some sweetness, like plums and dark cherries. Dark fruits. A slight syrupyness to the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is much fuller than a BMC beer but carbonation is pretty average and things aren't that exciting.

I have to say - this is my second Scottish Ale of the night and it isn't a terrible beer - but if I'm ever in Scotland I'm drinking the Scotch before the beers.

 757 characters

Photo of bark
3.1/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The colour is clear, deep red-brown; the two finger thick foam is semi-compact, beige and quite firm.

The smell is sweet, with a balanced blend of hops and burned malt. There are some totes of paperhanger's paste and bitter almonds.

The carbonation is medium strong (stronger than the average ale) with big bubbles.

The taste is quite complex with lots of burned malt and an almost chemical flavour of almonds (both sweet and bitter). I found it hard to describe this taste in full, but words like “glue stick” and “artificially flavoured cherry candies” came to my mind.

I suspected that they had put candy sugar in the brew making it ferment a second time (like many of the Belgian ales), but the label said “brewed from malted barley, hops and water”.

Anyway, the aftertaste is long with a soft bitterness and a taste of almonds and burned, sweet malt.

I found the beer surprisingly easy to drink, considering the odd almost chemical flavour. Not one of my favourites.

 1,000 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.14/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an almost opaque super dark orange-brown with a foamy tan head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, cardboard, chemical and spicy herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with watery cardboard, chemical, and spicy herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer with an mix of chemical and spicy herbal hop characteristics that make this one a bit difficult to drink much of.

Serving type: bottle.

 676 characters

Photo of wcdoyle
3.15/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark caramel leaning toward red. The head is rich and then settles to about ½ inch. Smells of caramel, too. First taste is sweet, but not overly so. It’s mild with a slight bit of hops after the sweetness. The mild sweet, then hoppy aftertaste fades quickly. Not a bad beer, but the price ($3.99 at my retailer) will likely keep me away.

 347 characters

Photo of n00tz
3.16/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear ruby body, tight cream-colored head, with sparse lacing. Carbonation is a bit slow, but steady.

S - Fruity malts and florals are easily detectable, not much beyond that.

T - Light breadiness imparted by the yeast. Very typical scotch creaminess is quickly gone to the bitterness that follows. Alcohol flavors almost cover the bitter fruit of black cherries, blackberries, and other tart or unripened fruit. Slight hop spiciness. I felt a bit disappointed in the hop balance the rest of the ale. If the initial creamy smoothness and yeasty breadiness had more presence, or if the fruity bitterness at the end wasn't quite so drowned by the alcoholic character, I think this would be in the starting lineup for Scottish Ales.

M - A bitter fruit aftertaste and slight stickiness is no doubt their "intensely hoppy" impart. The ale is a medium body that delivers its flavors well to the palate.

D - Overall, it just leaves some room for improvement on the balance of the character it has. It's a great profile for a Scottish Ale.

AFTERWARDS - Wow, the burp is a wonderful malty cream... Did I drink it too cold (~45F)?

 1,137 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Not sure of the availability of this in the US, but my father-in-law brought me back a 4pk from his trip to Scotland. This is pretty much an average Scottish ale, but with the distinction of possibly being the real deal: theonly one I've had that's actually from Scotland. I mean, I see Innis & Gunn on the shelves all the time, but it looks disgusting, so I've never tried a bottle.

Dark mahogany pour, looking nice, with a medium cap of off-white head. Toasty aroma, bready with a touch of smoke. In the taste, toasted grains, mild peaty smokiness, hints of candied fruit, dry grassy hop appearance in the finish. Body was about medium, with a pretty good drinkability for the style. An interesting beer to try.

 714 characters

Photo of mralphabet
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Dark reddish brown with about a fingers worth of off white head. Settles to a thick ring with wonder lacing all the way to the bottom of the glass.

S: I'm getting sweet malt with some floral/piny hops and maybe a little caramel.

T: Quick hit of sweet malt, then the floral hops really takes over... there is a hint of caramel and some nuttiness, but the bitter hops really takes over. Aftertaste is a little on the bitter side.

M: Light to medium bodied, crisp with a modest amount of carbonation.

D: Pretty interesting beer, a little more hoppy than I was expecting. It is a beautiful and interesting brew with a pretty low ABV. One was enough for me.

 698 characters

Photo of LumpyGuitar
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Comes in a shaped, brown, pint bottle.

Poured a dark red with a finger of light tan head. Retention is solid, and lacing is minimal.

Smells of strong bitter hops and strong malt. Alot of spice. The bottle says "violets, cherries, toffee and caramel on the nose" but honestly the hop and malt are so overpowering that I couldn't smell it, even if it was there.

Taste is very rich in hop and malt. Spicy hop dominates with malt leading a close second. A few earthy notes and clove.

Mouthfeel is very dry and crisp, medium to heavy bodied.

Drinkability here is average. This is unlike any other scottish ale I've had and its definately unique on its own. I'd drink it again in the right situation but I couldn't do this one frequently.

 738 characters

Photo of ralree
3.27/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark, but very clear red. White fluffy head, small bubbles, great retention and lacing.

S: Brown sugar, some hops, not much else. Pretty plain.

T: Very smokey and very bitter. Weird and watered down - doesn't really taste like beer in many ways. Alcohol undetectable, not sweet whatsoever, lots of hops, a little sour. It's like someone smoked an IPA and never added any fruit. Weird taste at first, but kinda grows on you. Literally almost no aftertaste at all.

M: Watery. Light bodied, a little oily, rather
astringent. Carbonation a little low. This area needs work to make the beer more pallatable, but it seems they're making a traditional brew.

D: Goes down alright, but I'm not chugging it. It's average.

 719 characters

Photo of SigEp
3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a deep, well, red. Thin 1 finger head dissapates quickly. Slightly malty, good deal of hop bitterness in there but not a lot of hop aroma. Slightly smokey scent and flavor; I think they use a small amount of peated malt? Anyways, this beer is good, if you like any of those "irish" reds (killians etc.) this is a superior version of them; a good, solid, dark amber, scottish ale. I prefer some of the other offerings of the Orkney brewery and if you don't like this one don't give up on the entire line. Lists as "enlgish pale ale" here, but as I've said I believe there is some peated malt in this, making it not taste much like a traditional pale.

 660 characters

Photo of jdhilt
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Distinctive taste, somewhat smokey, hops and malt blend together. Said to have a flowery hop taste but I couldn't tell. A dark, reddish beer. Light carbonation, medium head. Clear 500ml bottle.

 195 characters

Photo of rangerred
3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into a nonic.

Appearance is a clear medium red with a thin off white head.

Smells very floral with hops being quite noticeable which was surprising. A nice caramel maltiness comes through as well along with some fruit.

Taste is quite caramely up front with some citrus but this is quickly taken over by a sharp bitterness that is almost tannic in nature. It is a dry oily bitterness that coasts the back of your throat. A little bit overwhelming. Finish is quite dry.

I am torn on this beer. I want to like it a lot but it seems out of balance. A little more malt and a little less hops I feel would be perfect.

 635 characters

Photo of Jeffreysan
3.42/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, almost completely opaque, deep, dark, mahogany color, speckled with reddish highlights and a quarter of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Nice aromas of bready, toasted malt, caramel and brown sugar, and some floral, grassy, piney hops. Very nice.

Taste: Pretty good. Malty and bready and slightly sweet with flavors of caramel and a touch of toffee. There are also flavors of black pepper and coriander. Finally, the beer finishes with a touch of floral, grassy, piney hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and subtly carbonated. With an ABV of 4.0%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a decent beer, but nothing to write home about. Nice flavors and enjoyable as you drink it, but once drunk, its easily forgotten. In sum, its pleasant but forgettable.

 954 characters

Photo of kimcgolf
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to an amber red with medium off-white head that stuck around through mid-glass and left good lacing. Aroma was roasted nuts, though not real dominant, and flavor was more of the same. Finish was dry and slightly sweet, although not real long. A decent beer, but not Orkney’s best., as I failed to find the "bitter" in this ESB.

 351 characters

Photo of Yesac
3.44/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A -I'm not to iimpressed with the appearance. Poured brown/deep copper. No head.

S - The smell is excellent. Dark roasted hops with yeast presence.

T - woody/earthy, sweet malts. Some type of underlying fruits add sweetness. Great balance.

M - The mouthfeel is excellent, the carbonation doesn't seem present to the eye, but the what it does to the palate is amazing. Very clean feeling that leaves the hops clinging with taste provoking another sip. Quality brew here.

D - Low ABV, and palate feel makes this a great sessional with a red ale type taste.

 562 characters

Photo of tillmac62
3.44/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark ruby, almost brown, with a massive head and tremendous lacing. On the second pour from the bottle, flocculants were predominate and totally hazed what was a perfect appearance making it opaque. Light nose of caramel malt over a slight floral component. The body is almost medium with normal carbonation. The flavor is a mixed bag of citrus, biscuit, cherry and earthy hops. Finishes with a bit of tartness.

 424 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear, crimson hue, solid, fizzy head of beigish foam, that surely disappears.
Aroma is fruity, spicy, but not very forward, suggesting malt, cherries, cinnamon.
Sweet and spicy on the palate, but, again, mild, ...almost lifeless, really...there's a flavor and a feeling, but it lies so lightly and speaks up so seldom, it's pretty forgettable. Easy to drink, yeah,...but, so what?
reminds me of Irish Red Ales, but not as full-bodied or malty...a bit too thin. sorry, I ain't feelin' it.

 492 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
The Red MacGregor from Orkney Brewery
3.79 out of 5 based on 233 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.