Lidl’s Ben Bracken 23 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Whisky

benbracken23yospeysidesmall

I wouldn’t normally spend £40 on a bottle of whisky, but the chance to buy a  23 year old whisky for a lot less than a 23 year old normally costs was too good an opportunity to miss. My local Lidl had a few bottles, so I purchased one, I had been impressed with one of their blends I had bought last year, and Lidl and Aldi have a reputation for good value for money spirits.

The good news is, it’s nice. I’ll be honest, it’s not mind blowingly amazing, but I guess my disappointment is my fault. I think I got excited by it being a 23 year old whisky, at a bargain price, so I was expecting it to be leaps and bounds better than my normal whisky drinks, but instead, I should have been looking at it, as a £40 whisky, which is 23 years old.

It’s nicer than most of the other whiskies I’ve reviewed, but it costs a bit more than most of them, however it’s not as nice as the Yamazaki, or the 12year old Balvenie Triple Cask I tried a while ago, but it costs less than both of them. As is often the case in life, you get what you pay for, I paid £40 for a bottle of whisky, which is nicer than one that costs £25, but not as nice as one that costs £50 upwards, so I can’t really complain 🙂

So, now I’ve got that out the way, how does it taste? It’s smooth, slightly spicy, fruity, slightly woody, not much burn. There’s nothing overpowering or obvious, not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. In short, it’s a nice whisky, but unfortunately nothing stands out about it to make me want to buy it again, or recommend it. It ticks the right boxes, it smells and taste like whisky, but there’s nothing special about this drink 😦

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Lidl’s Ben Bracken 23 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Whisky

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

JDSingle

This is one of the more expensive Jack Daniels offering available in the supermarket, Old No7, Gentleman Jack, then this. It’s much better than normal JD (which I’m not a big fan of), you can drink this neat,  it works well with a mixer, but at this price that seems a waste. I actually preferred Gentleman Jack. Prices vary, this time of year, and around father’s day prices drop £5-£10 but

usual prices are about:

  • JD – £18
  • Gentleman Jack – £30
  • Silver Barrel Select – £40

It’s certainly not £10 better then Gentleman Jack, I wouldn’t be tempted to buy this again, even with £10 off. I prefer the Maker’s Mark which I also recently reviewed (I had both bottles open on the go at same time, usually I finish one before the next) and I never reached for this bottle first.

It’s ok, burn, toffee, pear, quite rich, sweet, spicy, nutty, it’s definitely a more complicated drink than normal JD, but it doesn’t grab me, I’m actually quite disappointed by it.

Back to whisky (without an E) for next few drinks I think.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

Maker’s Mark

MMarkSmall

The distinctive bottle with the wax dripping from the top down the side caught my eye a while ago, a cunning plan of theirs to make it stand out 😉 As one of the more expensive bourbons in the supermarket (£30) this had been on my wish-list for a while, but as usual, when it had a hefty discount, I bit, so I guess I’m a sucker for a gimmick and a “bargain” 🙂

It’s got a slight burn, but is smooth, quite sweet, hints of vanilla and caramel, perhaps slightly more woody than the other bourbons I’ve tried, rich and full bodied, nice, but there’s unfortunately nothing special about it to make me want to buy it again, it’s quite safe. Even the special offer price doesn’t tempt me to buy it again, it’s doesn’t seem “better” to me than cheaper bourbons, and doesn’t offer anything different.

For me, this is another one that I wouldn’t turn down if offered a glass, and I may buy in a pub/bar if not tempted by anything else, but I can’t see me buying a bottle again.

Maker’s Mark

Haig Club Clubman

Clubman

You’ve probably noticed this one in the shops, behind the bar, the bottle stands out a mile, it’s on special offer more often than not, I’ve passed by it so many times, but I thought I’d give it a go. That was my first mistake. It really is style over content. Neat, it’s pretty bad, it’s grain rather than malt whisky, which is maybe why you could think it’s vodka 😉 If someone gave you a glass and you were blindfolded, you’d know it was alcohol, but I doubt you could tell what, even with no blindfold it’s so pale you might not know!

The text on the back of the bottle should probably be an indication that drinking it neat wouldn’t be a good idea 😉

ClubmanBack

I remember a friend went to Scotland once, and told me that in a pub he asked for a whisky and coke, the bartender replied “In my bar you’d drink your whisky neat, with ice, with water, or not at all”! Maybe that’s a slightly snobbish attitude, but I guess they didn’t serve Clubman there.

So, I tried it with coke, lemonade, ginger beer and vermouth with Angostura Bitters (to make a Rob Roy). With mixers it was just about drinkable, it made a lousy Rob Roy, waste of cheap vermouth!

I won’t buy this again, should have ordered in a pub to try it 😞

Haig Club Clubman

Jim Beam Double Oak Twice Barreled

JimBeamDoubleOak

More expensive than the traditional white label Jim Beam, but as you can expect from me, I bought a bottle when it was heavily discounted in the supermarket, to make it same price as white label 🙂

I’m glad I did, it’s very nice, much nicer than regular Jim Beam. Similar in the difference between Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, i.e. Jim Beam Double oak can be drunk neat, or with ice, it does work with Coke, but doesn’t need a mixer, bit of waste if you add coke to it. Works well in a cocktail though.

It’s smooth, a bit of burn, vanilla, spice, caramel, basically everything you’d expect from a slightly more expensive bourbon. Nothing about it will set the world alight, but it’s a nice drink, especially for the right price. As often is the case, there’s the rub, RRP is more than Wild Turkey, but probably not much “better”, so not worth the extra cost, but when it’s reduced, it’s worth trying. Having said that it’s easily worth paying the extra money over white label Jim Beam.

In my mind, it’s in the same price bracket as Wild Turkey, and Buffalo Trace, and I would say of the same quality, but given the choice of all three, Wild Turkey would be my first choice, Buffalo Trace my second, and this my third. There’s not much in it, I just had a small Buffalo Trace and a small Double Oak to see which I preferred, and Buffalo Trace “won”. Usually Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace are about £23, Jim Beam Double Oak £25, I suppose that extra £2 is for the more well known brand.

So, in short, it’s very nice, worth buying, and I may buy again when it’s on special offer, if I fancy a change, but wouldn’t be my first choice, as there’s nothing particularly special about it.
Jim Beam Double Oak Twice Barreled

Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

OldForester

Another bourbon I’ve seen on the shelves a few times, but waited for a “special offer” on it before purchasing. Sadly I’ll put this in the list of drinks which are OK, perfectly drinkable, but there’s nothing really special about it to make it worth buying again, especially paying a premium over other bourbons.

It’s quite smooth, spice, vanilla and caramel, but not too sweet, you can drink it neat, it works with a mixer, or in a cocktail, but in my mind it seems silly to spend £30 on a bottle of something, to then add coke or anything else to it 😉
Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Abrachan – Triple Oak Matured, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky from Lidl

I had read good things about Lidl and their award winning spirits, so I thought I’d give “bargain bucket” a go, and to make another change, thought I’d give one of their award wining blends a go.

As I’ve said before about supermarket whisky, I don’t know enough to be able to guess which named distillery it comes from, what known brand it may be bottled inside, or who made the individual components to make the blend. However what I do know, is that for just under £20 this is excellent value for money.

It’s smooth, fruity, no real burn, and no particular stand out flavour.

It’s pleasant enough neat, with a mixer, or in a cocktail.

Abrachan – Triple Oak Matured, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky from Lidl