Undisclosed Islay

Ben Bracken 22 Year Old Islay (40%, Lidl, 2015)

Review: Ben Bracken 22 Year Old Islay single malt scotch whisky

  • Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky
  • Origin: Distillery unknown
  • Bottling: Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Co for Lidl
  • ABV: 40%
  • Cost: £44.99 from Lidl

Ben Bracken 22 Islay

What they say

Distilled in 1993, Product of Scotland. Ben Bracken distilled, matured and bottled in Scotland, Islay single malt scotch whisky. Chill Filtered and matured in oak casks for 22 years. Distilled in copper pot stills in the centuries-old manner, it is then laid down in oak casks and matured, undisturbed, for twenty-two years.

Official tasting notes:

  • Colour: Amber honey gold with dazzling rays of sunlight.
  • Nose: A soft breeze of salty sea spray, pinewood, peat smoke and burning bonfire leaves gently engulfs your nostrils. Not for the faint hearted therefore give it all the time and reverence it deserves and you will not be disappointed. These initial nuances give way to another barrage of beauty; lemon sponge, ogen melon, eucalyptus and salted bananas. A final fusion of spicy pineapple, baked wheat toast, cumin and dried fruits concludes this exciting bouquet.
  • Taste: Complex, intriguing yet truly heart-warming as an avalanche of flavours descends onto the palate with sheer exuberance, revealing hints of salted toffee apple, cinnamon pear tart with a lemon drizzle, nutmeg and smoked crème brulee. Just a whisper of tangy ground coffee, marzipan, Demerara sugar and peat smoke peaches make their presence felt. This is surely destined to delight the connoisseur as one final layer of ginger macaroons, spiced sherbet and kiwi fruits rewards the palate with eddies of enticing lingering sensations. A gentle giant!

Ben Bracken 22 Islay

What I say

As soon as these were announced I was determined to secure myself the pick of the Lidl festive whiskies on offer. In the end I opted for both Ben Bracken single malts; 22 Year Old Islay and 28 Year Old Speyside and the Glen Alba 34 Year old blend.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Dark orange copper amber (13/20), loose medium tears leave thick legs
  • Nose: Dried autumn leaves and burning leaves on an autumnal bonfire, chalky shellfish, briny, tannic leather, malty cereal barley, peat and wood smoke, fruit, red berries, maple wood, orange marmalade
  • Taste: Peaty and tannic up front, some maple syrup, treacle, parkin and fruits follow, red berries and vanilla cream with smoked sea salt, figs, walnut, cigar boxes, soft suede leather, creamy ginger and cinnamon spiced milk of magnesia, ashen peat embers and tannins, ginger and orange marmalade on brown toasted bread.
  • Finish: Medium-long, prickly spiced gingerbread and tobacco smoke

Overall

Interesting, delicate and quite creamy but with an overriding chalky nature that screams BOWMORE at me in big letters, coupled with either a refill sherry cask or mixture of refill sherry/bourbon cask maturation this remains highly drinkable but not overly impressive for me. Sadly with age the peat-influence in whisky is tempered and perhaps too far for me in this dram. If however you like your peaty whisky approachable and delicate, allowing the revelation of other flavours and aromas then you may be very impressed by this one. Some nice tannins going on and interesting fruits but too chalky & vanilla overall!

Score 77/100

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7 replies »

  1. Agree that this whisky is a little too muted for me – quite subtle and complex, but not enough ‘ooomph’. I’d rather spend another £15 and get a bottle of Ardbeg Corryveckan.

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  2. Errr, clearly Laphroaig; Bowmore isn’t even close.

    As soon as it was opened it was ‘froyg’ that hit me; only thing close is Lagavulin (in the style of their 200th anniversary 8 yr old. For £45 a two decade ‘froyg’ seems pretty good value; chill-filtered or not.

    It’s weak (much like the 10yr old; the water used to get it too 40% is palpable) and it’s badly missing the oils that have been chill filtered out too give it extra body, but the flavours are reassuringly there.

    Definitely more sophisticated than a 10 or Quarter Cask and half the price of the 18 or Lore; so for £45 how can you justify 77/100 (I mean why do you mark the colour?!).

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    • Thanks for your comments, I haven’t tried the 2016 BenBracken 22yo Islay, this review is the 2015 release, which may account for differing opinions on distillery? Or not. Scores are irrespective of price and are based on an enjoyment scale and I don’t mark/score colours I grade intensity on a standardised 20 point scale.

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  3. Hi there I bought a bottle and after tasting thought it was not a very nice taste at all and at £44 it was no better than a bottle of bells , needless to say it’ll be the last time I buy 1

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  4. I think for £45 this is more than just a decent bottle of whisky. A very reasonable price in fact. There is certainly a subtleness to the peat but for folks who maybe seeking a gentle introduction to peaty whisky I think for this price it is a very good middle ground. The bottle has some good age to it and a lovely balance of flavours.

    Has to be considered at this price.

    Liked by 1 person

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