Lidl: Ben Bracken: 16 Year Old Islay (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed apricot. Fast thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Menthol. Alcohol tingle. Meat broth. Smoke. Mossy. Wet oak. Dried apricot. Dried beef slices. Water adds more dried beef and beef stock.

Body: Warming. Fairly smooth. Oily smoke. Tar touch. Salty rocks. Light medicinal. Slightly drying. Dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Dried apricot. Water makes smoother. Brings out caramel. Still a prickle of alcohol. Slight cucumber. Beef broth.

Finish: Wet rocks. Dry peat smoke. Malt chocolate. Medicinal. Water adds raisins to fruitcake and glacier cherries. Sweeter chocolate. Madeira cake. Rice cakes.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get this out of the way first. Everyone wants a guess at which distillery this game from. Well it is definitely not Ardbeg, or Laphroig unless they are working severely off type! Probably not Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain or Kilchoman from the flavour. Best I know Ardnahoe doesn’t have any of anywhere near this age yet.

So, this has some Lagavulin like notes – the meaty broth like notes and decent peat, but it is not as polished or weighty as I would expect from them. With the tarry notes and general style, I would guess this is a high quality Caol Ila of more years than I normally encounter from them.

Though I could be wrong. It is just a guess. Anyway, less worrying about where it is from, more worrying about what it is like!

It is the heavier end of what you would expect from an Islay. Thick mouthfeel, some burning elements in the aroma when neat, but generally quite smooth despite the weight of feel. It is slightly oily and tarry, slightly medicinal and has a fair amount of dry peat smoke. Neat it can get drying overall, but still manages a general meaty character.

It has got a lot of peat in there, but not Ardbeg levels, and in general it feels smoothed out by age. That ageing means that, despite some alcohol notes, it still feels fine and weighty neat – however water does bring out just that big more dark fruit to express itself.

With water there is also some good sweetness under there as well, with chocolate and caramel hints coming out as it opens up. Generally though this is a sticky, heavy thing that emphasises the more tarry oily and peaty feel of an Islay whisky without going as full bore as the big guns of the island tend to.

So, to indulge the “Where is it from” vibe, again – this doesn’t feel as good as the Lagavulin 16, which is one of its close comparisons, especially with being the same age – it shows some similarity in the meaty, peaty character but isn’t as polished. Though since Lagavulin 16 is pretty much a desert island dram for me, that isn’t a harsh criticism, even making such a comparison bodes well for it. With the aforementioned tarry, oily, medicinal touch it would slot in nicely as a high quality aged Caol Ila, so that is what I would view it when deciding if it will be to your taste.

A very good dram, especially for the price. Not the best, if you are looking for that, but very high quality and very affordable for the age and quality.

Background: At Christmas Lidl released this special edition, a 16 year Islay from an unknown Distillery, for just under thirty five pounds. That is a good price, and reviews were positive so I decided to try and grab a bottle, but my local Lidl didn’t have any in stock. Typical, the one time I try and use the place. So, my parents came through for me, managed to grab a bottle and gave it to me as a Christmas present. Many thanks! Now, you may have realised this is a long time since Christmas – due to covid lock-down I only just finally got to meet my parents for the first time in over a year recently. So then I finally got it. Woo! Also, woo for meeting family. But, also woo whisky! I know my priorities (Sorry Mum). There has been a lot of guessing about where this could be from, but I have no additional info, so have to just guess. Music wise I went back to Akala: Knowledge Is Power: Vol 2 – pretty much the guy who got me into looking at more hip hop and it is epic.