Ben Bracken Islay 19yo 43% ABV

ben bracken 19yo

Rumoured to be either Caol Ila or Bowmore (I hope it’s Bowmore as it’s a travesty if it’s Caol Ila!). Bottled under the Ben Bracken name for Lidl supermarkets.


Appearance: Dark amber, quite autumnal. A decent tide mark and viscous film form. A few decent medium/thick trails form.

Nose: No ABV wave to speak of. Typical Isaly BBQ smoke and meats, some salinity and general coastal aromas (seaspray, a little seaweed and shells). I have to say, as with the Highland, this one is also muted. If I really sniff hard, there’s some sweetness and a little cut grass. There’s a lemon pepper element to the nose, cooling and almost minty. Some more oaky, smouldering wood notes struggle to come through after a while. This dram just needs a kick up the arse and an injection of ABV!

Palate: Thin mouthfeel, disappointing. Dusty bookshelves, dying BBQ smoke, bitter oak and some orange. There’s also a white pepper tingle, but it disappears as quickly as it arrives. After a time there are some more creamy notes: custard or vanilla ice cream and white chocolate, but these are faint.
Again, this all tastes diluted and muted.
I had high hopes for this one but it’s falling short for me.

Finish: Gentle smoke, white chocolate and a slight pepper tingle last for a medium amount of time.

Overall: Disappointing. I know it’s an amazing deal to get a 19yo for (now) under £40 but not if it’s this lacking generally. There are so many better whiskies on the market for the same price or less, most of them much younger.

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