Taste: Marks & Spencer Highland 12 Year Old

I’m not one for delving into statistics page and information for this blog, but clearly without much research, some of the most popular pages are those regarding supermarket own label releases. My reasoning is that for many these offer an affordable price point for a single malt whisky without paying over the odds for content, official distillery status and all that wasteful packaging.

Another factor will be that many supermarkets don’t seek out publicity or reviews so that big name blogs who have cosy relationships and samples won’t put their money where their mouth is. For the last year I’ve been touring around the supermarkets picking off releases one by one. There have been some real lows such as the Waitrose blend and delights like the Asda Extra Special Islay. I view this as an ongoing project that will never end. Most supermarkets refresh their range every couple of years, so if I haven’t gotten around to that Tesco bottle you’ve been eyeing up, fear not as eventually I’ll get there. My wallet does unfortunately know some bounds and I can only make a certain amount of whisky sauce.

We’ve now arrived at Marks & Spencer who always have a trio of regional single malts for sale alongside official exclusives; previously it was Deanston but now they are offering a St George’s bottle. This is the first of three reviews covering their unnamed 12 year regional single malts which are split into the traditional Highland, Islay and Speyside regions. Why no lowland? A missed opportunity given the quality of Bladnoch and that remarkable Auchentoshan I tasted as part of the Cadenhead’s February releases; more on that later.

There are no hints on the packaging about the source or who has been involved in ‘expertly’ selecting these malts. This range comes in a variety of sizes and I’m tasting from the 5cl triple pack (in a sturdy tin container I’ll be using for transportation), a dinky 20cl before moving up to a larger 70cl.

Distillery: Unknown
Age: 12 years
Strength: 40%

Colour: well worn pine
Nose: Citrus is the first note with peaches and pineapple then we’re dropping down into apples almost cider-like quality; a refreshing summer orchard stroll. A really fatty, oily note coming through that I’d describe as puff pastry before some lovely fudge. A well rounded nose that comes across as a gentle highland lass.
Taste: Well, bursting with more citrus with lemons and limes before a touch of ash/tobacco finishes off the experience.

A lovely nose that the actual taste or finish cannot match. Still, for a supermarket release I’d quite happily have this on my everyday drinking shelf. Average fare but not great or memorable, or should I say not terrible?


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