When you think of quality blended Scotch, Lidl is probably not the first place that comes to mind.
But with the release of their Glenalba range, that is exactly what they have achieved. This is a fantastic range that has great depth and fantastically refined flavours.
This is not the first time Lidl have branched into the world of Whisky. Only three years ago did they release a Maxwell range of single malts that were received with open arms by the Whisky community.
With three pretty impressive age statements, Lidl is able to provide these wonderful blends at incredibly reasonable prices.
The Glenalba family of blends make for the perfect Christmas gifts, or just some festive enjoyment for yourself.
The youngest of the bunch is a 22-Year-Old with a Sherry cask finish.
Priced at just £29.99, this is a brilliantly fruity expression, with just the right amount of malty spice peaking through.
The nose conjures images of rich orchards bursting with multiple varieties of fruit, all dusted with a cinnamon hue.
Apples, orange, bananas and pears are all present in the first whiff with great distinction to each. They are sweet and juicy, just beckoning to be plucked from the bough.
With a healthy dose of spice on top, the nose is only a sign of just what is to come.There are also hints of rich malt and oaky woodedness throughout the nose.
These flavours are boosted on the palate and the blend really comes alive.
The fruit takes a dry, tangy turn and is wonderfully complemented by the subtle dullness of the oak. The Sherry of the barrels can be tasted in the fruit and the characteristic combination of sweet and spice.
Overall the palate has a warming clarity of flavours, with the fruits and oak being separate and complementary all at once.
The finish is quick and the warming qualities becoming ever more apparent.
Next in line to the Glenalba throne is the 25-Year-Old.
This expression, also finished in a Sherry cask, is a refined and sophisticated step up from the 22-Year-Old.
The opening nose is dark and strong, and although not immediate, the rich sweetness and spice can be detected just under the surface.
Upon further inspection, there is a deep fruity flavour with nutty overtones reminiscent of the Sherry cask. The sweetness of the fruit is perfectly complemented with hazelnuts and cashews making an appearance every now and then.
There is a distinct caramel flavour to the sweetness, intertwining with the nuttiness to create a wonderful combination.
On the palate, the mouth feel is super smooth, with the creamy caramel really standing out.
Chocolate oranges and candied citrus peels make their way to the forefront, with the tell tale Sherry spice to give them depth and sophistication.
The warming qualities of the 22-Year-Old are even more evident in the 25 and they make this the perfect dram for enjoying across from ablazing fire on a cold winter’s night.
The finish is dry and filled with plenty of fruit and spice, extending that warming sensation right to the end.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the eldest in the family, the 34-Year-Old, and unlike most 34 year olds I know, this dram has got its stuff together!
This is a well cultured and refined dram that will transport you to a mahogany library filled with leather bound books. Like its siblings it has been matured in a Sherry cask.
The nose presents the first whiff of this, with rich leather and dark coffee surrounded by dried raisins, apricots and sultanas.
The Sherry fruitiness is dark and sumptuous, with moist Christmas cake and thick black treacle in the background.
If you really get your nose in there, there are hints of dark chocolate and melting brown sugar that give the 34-Year-Old depth.
These flavours combine perfectly on the palate. The black treacle and Christmas cake notes become more pronounced and give this blend a luxurious feel.
There is also a healthy dose of nutmeg and cinnamon to give this a spicy boost and again, make for the perfect dram on a cold winter’s night.
The finish rounds off well, with lots of sweetness and that black treacle making its final appearance!
Lidl may not be everyone’s first stop for quality blends, but with a range as impressive as this it definitely should be!