This is a bit of a flash review. Largely because by the time you read this sentence it will have sold out, and you’ll be thinking, why on earth is Malt reviewing this?
Well the nature of the modern whisky drinker means that they’ll have bought one for drinking, and one to stick on an auction site, bless their capitalist heart. So you may still find one in a few weeks at auction, if you’re not lucky enough that your local Lidl still has some in stock.
Recently I reviewed three Lidl whiskies, which proved that this discount supermarket chain can put out very good value whiskies. On November 12 (today) they released a new range of blended malts and single malts, all of which were old and still very cheap for the price.
I was only after one bottle in particular, the oldest single malt. This is the Ben Bracken 28 Year Old, bought – by my dedicated wife after I failed at my first attempt to get a bottle – for £49.99. It’s strength is 40% ABV, and it uses chill-filtration to ensure a bright and clear product for the mass market.
Colour: burnished gold to oloroso sherry. On the nose: I’d be surprised if this hasn’t been in multiple casks. Plenty of honey and vanilla notes, but with sweetshops and candy-floss. Massively floral, in fact: old-fashioned roses. And once that sweetness drifts away, there is a nice maltiness at the heart of it. Agricultural, and grassy. Grapefruit juice. Apples. No, grape juice, in fact.
In the mouth: grassy, late summer fruits, hedgerow jam. Plenty of cereal to chew on, and actually despite the low ABV of 40%, there’s plenty of flavour. Barley sugar. Toffee. A lot of honey. Freshly baked pastry. Apple pie! Peaches, and perhaps just a touch of marmalade-glazed ham. It’s really very nicely balanced. Not a huge finish to it, and not a spicy one either. It doesn’t feel at all that old – which is to say that there’s minimal old wood spice to it. And by that I really mean, Lidl hasn’t become a dumping ground for whisky that’s spent too long in a cask. Far from it.
This is not bad at all. I wouldn’t say it was stunning, but it is a very classy little dram. When you put the price tag in front of the Ben Bracken 28 Year Old, this whisky is basically two fingers up to the rest of the industry.