Lidl’s Ben Bracken 28 Year Old

Ben Bracken - Lidl 28

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.

Tasting notes

Ben Bracken 28Colour: 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.

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Sean says:

    And here’s my review on its sibling, Lidl’s ‘Ben Bracken’ Islay 22yr 40% ABV

    A: Medium amber, fast-paced thin oily legs. Looks like it should have been in a sherry cask. (caramel at play here?)

    N: Gentle, unaggressive peat (not ‘in your face’ and overpowering), with earthy grassy tones. Then there’s a sweet metallic twang: sort of like holding some coins, then putting your hand into an opened packet of toffees. Sweets and candy. That sort of smell. There’s the expected aroma of charring smoking wood in a wood burner. But there’s definitely something else in the background that I can’t identify.

    P: Gentle sweetness. A nice oily and mellow spice turning into a pleasant mild-tingling warmth. The 40% ABV worried me a little, but it actually allows lots of flavours to play around on the tongue without burning. It’s actually quite moreish.

    F: Medium, with me wanting to refill the glass as soon as it was emptied.

    Conclusion: strangely, very (very), drinkable. The 40% could possibly do with being turned up a notch to 43%, but it does work well. For a 22 year old single malt, it’s also pretty good value as well. But don’t add any water whatsoever. It’ll make the whole thing collapse. Distillery? Hmmm. Tough one. A bit Ardbeggy in some flavour profiles, but I’m stumped.

    Am I glad I bought this? Yes. Good value? Yes.

    But what is that unidentified smell I’m picking up? Either way, grab one. If you can.

    1. Mark says:

      Thanks for sharing! Didn’t pick up this one, but sounds like it’s got a good degree of complexity to it… Did you pick up the Speysider as well?

          1. Mark says:

            Ha! Luckily my wife was fully onboard for getting at least one, but with there being a new outturn from the SMWS I thought better of it…

    2. bifter says:

      I got the Speyside malt and the 25yo blend. I wish I’d been able to extend to the Islay, in fact one of each of the whole range would have been nice 🙂

      Anyway, it seems to be a bit of a thing that supermarket Islays are not always readily identifiable. One reason I heard for this (from someone in the industry) is that there is a bit of an incestuous trade in casks on the island as transport costs are high. Thus a cask may get round two or more distilleries in it’s useful life, which will of course, affect whatever is filled into it. I know that some distilleries (e.g. Glenfiddich, Balblair) have used Islay casks to produce peated OBs. In fact, it made me wonder that whisky from second (and later) fill casks that have changed hands could technically be blended (teaspooned) malts?

      Anyway looking forward to opening my swag over the festive season, props to Lidl for delivering yet again!

      1. Mark says:

        That’s a very good point on the technicalities of it being a teaspooned malt. I guess it depends largely what’s done to the cask – back to the cooperage beforehand or whatever. But there has to be some in the wood still at least?

        Anyway, enjoy those Lidl whiskies!

  2. Ma says:

    The 22 Year Old Islay Malt, proved to be well worth the gamble. Sweet with plenty of depth and character – a tasty old Single Malt at a superb price. Still plenty left in my local Lidl and very tempted to buy a couple more for the shelf. Bought my dad the one of the blends for Christmas, would be interested to hear some feedback from anyone who bought one of these as again they have plenty still in my local store.

    1. Mark says:

      Hi there. Yes, I might pop into Lidl to try some of their other bottles. I had completely expected, like last year, for them to sell out pretty quickly. From what I gather they’ve all gone down reasonably well.

  3. Boydlee says:

    I’ve tried most of these now. The 25yr Glen Alba sherry cask blend is the best out of the lot in my opinion. The 22yr Glen Alba is OK but fairly one-noted with a strange aftertaste, but for £5 more the 25yr is really very, very good value.

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