Released on November 12th 2015, Ben Bracken is a range of single malts produced by discount supermarket Lidl.
The release also comes alongside the introduction of a range of three blends called Glenalba to the supermarket chain.
These malts have all been met with considerable praise and although not many think of Lidl as their primary supplier of Whisky, with these malts available, they just might think again.
With good age statements across both ranges, fans will also be relieved by the relatively cheap price labels. Lidl is especially proud of this themselves and are keen to source good quality products at reasonable prices.
Featuring two age statements, a 22-Year-Old and a 28-Year-Old, Lidl has sourced the Ben Bracken range from Islay and Speyside, giving their customers a taste of two very different regions.
To guess which is which, all I’ll need to say is that the 22-Year-Old begins with a nose full of peat.
The smoke wafts from the dram and carries with it many other Islay traits.
There are the tell tale tangy medicinal qualities, like opening a first aid kit filled with ointments and plasters, with the peated dullness in the background.
From here the dram delves into a more herbal note, with slight hints of lavender and thyme. There is also the refreshing subtlety of fresh cut, dew-covered grass to give a nice back drop against the more obvious peated flavors.
The typical sea air and brine also fill the nostrils on first smell and bring about a memory of a nice cold walk down a windswept beach. The peat, as is usual for Islay malts, ties in well with these flavours and the dram’s island home can be tasted and seen.
On the palate the smoke really takes hold and the beach scene from the nose is joined by burning embers in the background.
There is a slight hint of spicy warmth that gives depth to the smoke. This spice complements the herbs will by both standing out from them but mixing with them at the same time.
The finish is quick and dry, with a slight sweetness and smoky tang.
The 28-Year-Old, being from Speyside, has a distinctly fruitier and sweeter flavour profile.
The nose is filled with thick honey and typical orchard smells, like blossom and oak wood. There is also fresh cut grass and honeysuckle to be enjoyed.
There is also a great maltiness to this dram that gives it a refined depth and complexity.
With a dash of water added citrus fruits begin to appear alongside candied orange peel and clementines.
On the palate these flavours are given further depth with a cereal overtone and more sweet aromas.
The honey becomes more vanilla laden and the oak wood of the barrels really begins to show. The mouth feel is smooth and thick, with a velvety softness that matches the flavours perfectly.
Apples and pears join the citrus fruits and the sweetness is ripe and bursting with flavour.
The finish is longer than in its sibling and of course, considerably sweeter, with the orchard flavours rounding everything off perfectly.
Despite what you may think of Lidl, not much can be said against both the Ben Bracken or Glenalba ranges. These are fantastic drams at completely reasonable prices. What more could you ask for?