Review: Ben Bracken Islay Single Malt - 40%

Back in December 2015, I took a punt on a couple of bottles of Ben Bracken from Lidl - a 28-year-old Speysider and a 22-year-old Islay. They were decent enough drams and both bottles were demolished pretty quickly.

Recently, I took another trip back to have a wee look to see what they had on offer and picked up this non-age statement single malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery for around £17. It's chill filtered, has an unnatural orange glow about it and it's bottled at 40% - pretty standard stuff, but for the price, I'm not going to complain too much!

I left it to sit covered for 20 minutes in the glass and the first whiff was fruity and ash-heavy, but there’s also a huge amount of peaty mint! As it settles down, the peat moves over to the side and the fruit notes come to the front - orange and blackberry? Something like that. There’s also carbolic soap and a chemical, metallic note which isn't particularly pleasant. It doesn't completely ruin the smell, but once detected, I found it hard to move on.

The first taste is of smoked oranges and tangerines - and then a slight sourness creeps in along with some liquorice and a wee bit of mint. Black tea, too.

The peat really kicks in on the finish - dry, ashy peat to boot! Orange oils then take over along with a slight touch of milk chocolate and some brown sugar. That mint isn’t going anywhere either and there's a whack of burnt liquorice.

It’s not the most complex whisky, but that's only to be expected and it has its flaws. It reminds me slightly of The Ileach, but not as good.


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