Newspapers love a good story about an underdog whisky that is defeating the odds and beating some of the big distilling boys. It’s almost an annual event nowadays, which shows how many awards are dished out generally to whisky but also how competitive the sector truly is. Also you have to say that beating a Glenlivet – which seems the quoted example in the articles – isn’t too difficult given what that distillery is producing nowadays.
Here at Malt we’re spoilt by some very expensive, rare and memorable whiskies. It’s fortunate and at times costly environment, but I never overlook the entry end of the market where affordability and bang for your buck are key factors. After all, there’s nothing worse than purchasing a bottle of whisky that turns out to be a bit of a dud, regardless of the cost involved. Over the 7 plus years of the website we’ve spent a great deal of time and effort covering whiskies provided by the supermarket sector.
One of the most successful players in the supermarket genre is German chain Aldi when it comes to quality and affordability. Their range is known by the name Glen Marnoch and merely serves as a white label name to cover some of Scotland’s major whisky regions. We’ve reviewed the Islay and the Highland editions and the missing piece of the jigsaw is the Speyside bottling that we have here. There’s a great deal of interest around whisky in general whether it’s in the media or talking with strangers in pubs. You can also tell from the most popular articles on Whisky Rover that tend to be these supermarket releases including the odd limited edition from Aldi such as the Glen Marnoch Highland Single Malt Rum Cask Finish or their recent experimental Hogwash Blended Scotch Whisky.
These occupy the value spectrum of the market and are exclusive to the supermarkets that have requested a third party to come up with the recipe. For those new to whisky, these are single malts so they do not contain grain whisky that you will find in blended scotch releases, yet they are priced within this realm. A single malt is a whisky from a single distillery. As Speyside is Scotland’s most dynamic and populated region when it comes to whisky distilleries; there are numerous contenders. That’s part of the appeal of buying a white label product as you’re essentially buying with limited information. You don’t know which distillery is responsible and whilst I may hazard a guess upon tasting, ultimately at this end of the market it doesn’t matter. A single malt at this price is a treat and one now made affordable and of sufficient quality.
For the record, this Speyside whisky received a gold medal from the Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters. I’m known for dissing some awards but the fact that the Spirits Business is a reliable source, utilises the opinions and scores of many well versed in whisky it therefore carries some validity. The fact that these whiskies were tasted blind is a positive. Nowadays, it’s all too easy to be swayed by a fancy label, famous name or marketing spin when dealing with a whisky. This award takes everything back to its essence; the whisky.
The fact that this Glen Marnoch matched and bettered some more notable whiskies during the judging does not come as a surprise. The quality of whisky produced across Scotland nowadays is of a consistent standard and blenders have an array of stock when producing a release. This being a single malt means it contains whisky from a solitary distillery and won’t be a specific single cask, rather a vatting of various casks and ages. It’s a No Age Statement release which fits in with the price point and lack of information generally about the origins. Whenever I’m faced with a single malt bottling it comes down to the price and the whisky experience. Far too many nowadays are overpriced and deliver very little except being an official bottling from a distillery and some fancy marketing spiel about a loch monster or an ancient witch.
Bottled at 40% and featuring artificial colouring, these are the staples of this price point and that’s the key thing. Folk shopping at this level don’t really care about the distillery, traditional methods and ultimately the packaging. At £17.49 it’s extremely affordable and now as an award winner it’s time for the ultimate test.
Aldi’s Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review
Colour: dried orange peel
Nose: a promising arrival of toffee and orange rind with vanilla pod. There’s apricot and walnuts with a touch of pepper and dark chocolate. Buttery almonds and dried raisins round off an engaging experience. The addition of water reveals apples and a wee bit of ginger.
Taste: a very light body and a touch watery in all honesty. There’s more orange notes and a shortbread aspect that moves more into oats towards the finish. A buttery caramel with marmalade and a perfume aspect before the oaty finale. Water revealed more toffee, a touch of lemon and icing sugar.
There’s a good balance here between the spirit and cask. The end result is an easy drinking Speysider with a light inoffensive body and just enough character. For the price under £18 there’s nothing to complain about here and I’d happily reach for this compared to several famous Speyside distilleries that charge double the price.