Here we have another instalment in my relentless supermarket series where I tackle the blends and single malts exclusive to certain retailers. I’ve been focusing on Marks & Spencer’s recently, starting with their regional single malts, which are Highland, Islay and Speyside. However M&S also offer a bargain basement blended Scotch (pictured above) that sits alongside a 5 year blended Scotch known as Kenmore.
They also stock exclusive editions from distilleries with the current example being a St George’s release at £35, while previously it was a malt from Deanston. This takes us to the Kenmore which is blended and bottled by Burn Stewart distillers. While the malts that make up this blend are not stated, it is straightforward enough to limit the scope mainly to those 3 distilleries that the Burn Stewart owns, namely Deanston, Bunnahabhain and Tobermory, excluding the grain component. The group has a history of successful blends with Scottish Leader and the Black Bottle, being the current examples. Fingers crossed that we’re on solid ground then.
Distillery: blend so a composite.
Strength: 40% ABV
Price: 20cl £5.99, other sizes available
I’ll quote the blurb so we can consider the aim of this blend; ‘full, smooth and lightly peated, Kenmore is a unique aged blend which achieves the highest standard expected of the best whiskies of Scotland.’
Kenmore Special Reserve Blended Scotch – review
Colour: A rich additive caramel.
On the nose: This does remind me of the new direction the Black Bottle has taken although not as sweet on the nose. A touch of smoke, raisin, pine and caramelised sugar so a pleasant and inoffensive.
In the mouth: A little peat in the background, actually a nicely balanced blend here upon reflection. A touch of sweetness from the stewed fruits, a beef stock feel and a nip of spice mainly from black pepper, cinnamon and star anise rounded off by a watery grain fuelled finish.
At this price point you don’t expect a huge character in the glass and this isn’t a dramatic experience. Even with such muted expectations I found this to be better than some of the other blends I’ve experienced from Waitrose and Morrisons at this level. It achieves just enough on the palate and I jokingly suggested this was the Black Bottle-lite equivalent. A few notches down on the sweetness factor, but still a thumbs up from me taking into perspective the pricing and rival offerings; I’d buy another bottle.