New Whiskies

Batch 16: Lidl Limited Releases

by
Lidl's seasonal whisky releases

A special batch of tasting notes for the discount retailer’s line-up of keenly-priced pre-Christmas Scotch whiskies, all on sale from 12 November. The limited edition range includes three blends and two single malts – one from Speyside and one from Islay – all tasted here by Richard Woodard.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glenalba 22 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish

    Score 7.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenalba 22 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Precise, bright fruit – ripe red apples in the barrel, then ripe tangerine and something darker. Some dusty, spiced oak emerges, with a tangy, feral edge. Add water and sweet malt emerges, along with more of that dusty wood.
    Palate
    There’s some drying oak, but not before the tangy fruit has had its say, along with a refined note of lacquered old wood. Quite voluptuous and ripe, with dried fruit playing second fiddle to something altogether brighter and fresher.
    Finish
    Fairly abrupt and a little hot.
    Conclusion
    The Sherry is relatively restrained here, allowing the spirit to speak. Price will be a factor with all of these whiskies – this is remarkable liquid for less than 30 of your English pounds.
    Right place, right time
    Hazy Indian summer day in an apple orchard, surrounded by ripe windfalls. As you doze in the shade, a mouse darts past.

    Glenalba 25 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenalba 25 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Brooding, sulky even, at first. A faintly funky character that melds into welcome hints of rancio, bringing to mind old vintage Armagnac. Then dried fruit and a more overt Sherry cask style than the 22-year-old. Caramel-coated hazelnuts. With water, some cereal elements emerge, but the fruit clings on.
    Palate
    You feel the texture first – silken, beautiful – that ushers in a rich, hedonistic mid-palate before those rancio notes return. Exotic fruit in the form of Seville oranges. Water brings dried fruit, but also a harsher edge to proceedings, along with a slight loss of balance.
    Finish
    A little drying, but the remaining fruit adds pep.
    Conclusion
    The Sherry’s been dialled up a notch here, but it remains precise and just about under control. You get a penny back for £35, for Pete’s sake. Not too shabby at that price.
    Right place, right time
    A sultry flamenco bar in downtown Granada. As a silk-robed dancer takes to the floor, her heady perfume wafts across the room.

    Glenalba 34 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish

    Score 6.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenalba 34 Years Old Sherry Cask Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose
    This is shy at first, reticent, before scents of an antique desk with an old leather inlay emerge. Then there’s dark roasted coffee, raisins, sultanas and – almost inevitably – Christmas cake. Again, everything is precise and knows its place. Water softens, but neutralises.
    Palate
    Rum-like. Molasses, richly brandy-soaked fruits, dates and plain chocolate. Some rich spice too, and the edgy aroma of the coffee roaster. Add water and it all collapses.
    Finish
    The molasses are back.
    Conclusion
    It teeters on the brink of being OTT, but drink it neat and give it time, and everything’s fine. Add water at your peril.
    Right place, right time
    Early morning. You wake on a mass of velvet cushions in a dimly lit room ripe with incense. Slowly the memories of the night before return.

    Ben Bracken 28 Years Old Speyside Single Malt

    Score 8.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ben Bracken 28 Years Old Speyside Single Malt
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Fresh and expressive: honey, newly mown hay and the barn in which it will later be stored. Some pungent floral aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine, then wheaty notes with the unmistakable edge of age. With water, somebody’s been jumping around in the haybarn, sending seeds and dust flying. Water also conjures fruit, in the form of bright tangerine notes.
    Palate
    The cereal notes come first, merging gently into animal feed and a farmyardy character. There’s a little curry spice to perk things up and, once you add water, more of that bright tangerine flavour and then the ripe tang of laced marmalade. Then honey and a little Madagascan vanilla.
    Finish
    The heady hedgerow aromas round things off nicely.
    Conclusion
    The star of the show for Lidl this year. There’s weight, there’s subtlety, there’s complexity and there’s outright pleasure. Simply beautiful.
    Right place, right time
    Hayloft, late summer, languorous heat. As you sprawl in the hay, a bee buzzes past.

    Ben Bracken 22 Years Old Islay Single Malt

    Score 6.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ben Bracken 22 Years Old Islay Single Malt
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose
    The peat is immediate and enveloping. It’s of the medicinal variety, suggesting sticking plaster, Germolene and camphor. Then there’s a slightly herbal, grassy character with the animal edge of a garden shed taken over by mice. Just a hint of light orange. Water pushes the smoke back, beckoning in toybox memories of Plasticine and Fuzzy-Felt, then forest undergrowth and a pinch of anise.
    Palate
    There’s no escaping that smoke, but now it’s a charred, still smoking branch which catches at the back of your throat. There’s a pleasing savoury element too and some Garam Masala, and this savoury theme continues with water, before the smoke returns in lighter and more palatable form.
    Finish
    Shortish and a little drying, but some fruit too.
    Conclusion
    This screams Islay almost too loudly, and subtletly is not its strong suit. But, once you grow accustomed to it, it’s very enjoyable – plus you can dial it down a bit with water. And did I mention the price…?
    Right place, right time
    Camping on a beach. You wake warmed by the morning sun, and the smoke from the dying embers of a fire drifts over, making you cough… and smile.
Scroll To Top