With Christmas just around the corner, supermarket Lidl recently released their festive batch of whisky in the shape of a 28-year-old Speysider and a 22-year-old Islay malt - and launched them for £49.99 and £44.99 respectively.
Obviously that’s cheap for whiskies of this age, and although bottled at 40%, chill-filtered and with added colouring, both bottles represent great value. They’re not spectacular, but both are easy-going drams with a lot to say about themselves.
Incidentally, at a time when I’m usually on the lookout for whiskies with craft presentation, the boast on the labels that they're chill-filtered made me smile.
Special thanks to WhiskyApocalypse who let me know the bottles were out - I rescued the last of them from a local branch of the supermarket.
Ben Bracken 28 year old (Speyside) - 40%
Nose: A trip down the biscuit aisle of the local supermarket: Custard Creams, Party Rings and lemon shortbread. Vanilla, green apple slices, golden syrup, cereal, bright barley, white pepper, slight spearmint, earthy with white sugar. Oak is there but it's quite restrained.
Palate: A sweet, honied arrival with a lovely malty flavour. A twist of pepper, rich honey, a light citrus. A touch of grapefruit rind and buttery shortbread.
Finish: Sweet and rounded. Lovely honey, slightly bitter citrus on the tail end. Malty, vanilla, burnt sugar, hard caramel sweets and milky coffee.
Obviously, there's no way to accurately tell what distillery this whisky is from. The general consensus is that it's Tamnavulin - which I've yet to try - but to my senses, this smells and tastes like a Longmorn. It has that same biscuity, vanilla stuff going on. I like it.
Ben Bracken 22 (Islay) - 40%
Nose: Sherried with dried fruit, dates, walnuts, carbolic soap, flat Irn-Bru, green herbal notes, cinnamon, burnt toffee and orange oil. Peat is certainly there but it's not slapping me about the chops. Some damp earth and wet cardboard.
Palate: Slightly sour arrival with lots of orange, black coffee, caramel, brown sugar, mellow smoke and green twigs.
Finish: Smoke with burnt orange rind, dark honey, black tea tannins, dried fruit and the flat Irn-Bru note returns.
If I were to take a punt on a distillery, I'd go for Bowmore - simply because I’ve only ever experienced that flat Irn-Bru smell and taste in Bowmores in the past. A good session Islay.