Tag Archive: Lidl UK

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.


Lidl Hatherwood The Amber Adder No 3
Lidl: Hatherwood: The Amber Adder: No 3 (England: Amber Ale: 4.3% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Medium off white head and clear body. Very low carbonation.

Nose: Malt chocolate and toffee. Low hop character and bitterness. Orange. Brown sugar.

Body: Caramel. Prickling hop bitterness and greenery. Light glacier cherries and fruitcake. Creamy orange.

Finish: Bitter hops. Mild charring and greenery. Caramel. Some pineapple.

Conclusion: You know, it would be oh so easy to take the cheap route here, to take the piss as this is a Lidl beer. But, eh, I try to be vaguely professional and, well, this is ok. It plays everything straight down the middle, pretty much the base you would expect – caramel body, low level but present hop bitterness, and a bit of greenery character. The base you know? Oddly, colour wise it doesn’t really look that much like an amber ale though, tending more towards a ruddy brown.

So it is solid at the base, but nothing more than that is done. It favours the malt over the hops, pushing more the light fruitcake notes. There are hints of a fruity hop character – in the finish it comes out as light pineapple, but it is definitely muted as an element. The hops are more a light generic bitterness and slight rough feel character. So, yeah, more on the malt and a decent toffee, chewy base.

Well, huh, that pretty much is the beer summed up, and fairly quickly as well – there is not much to say. It is ok but without any real character from the hops, what they do use gets leaden quickly. I will repeat that it isn’t actively bad, but so very middle of the road, no risk, no glory, no stand out character.

An inoffensive beer, it passes the time, tastes ok, but doesn’t do more than that.

Background: Style call was a hard one on this – they call it an amber ale but it doesn’t have much of that character. Ratebeer calls it a bitter which does fit better. In the end I have gone with my standard, which is lean towards what the brewer calls it and judge it as that. So in this case an Amber Ale. This was another beer given by the parents while I was up north. Many thanks! Drunk while listening to Jonathan Young’s cover of Dinosaur Laser Fight. Which is awesome. On Toast. I never claimed to be mature.

Ruby Rooster

Lidl UK: Hatherwood: Ruby Rooster (England: Bitter: 3.8% ABV)

Visual: Ruby to black cherry red. Reddened brown large inch and a half of froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Earthy. Slight spice and cinnamon. Banoffee. Potatoes.

Body: Banana. Caramel. Apricot. Peanuts. Potatoes. Earthy. Slick texture. Lightly bitter, Cinnamon. Light citrus.

Finish: Banana ice cream syrup. Apricot. Light bitterness. Caramel. Light earth.

Conclusion: You know, I took a look online after doing this review and saw this beer getting quite the kicking online, with lots of jokes about it being a Lidl beer, but the thing is… I found it to be a nicely balanced beer. A bit of traditional earthy style, but generally a smooth gently sweet beer with main style of banana and caramel, understated but soothing.

Now it isn’t all great, there is this almost potato character that brings it down, but the nutty and surrounding earthy hops contrast nicely with the smooth and sweet main base. It isn’t the heaviest beer, which may put people off, but it doesn’t seem thin or weak, just mellow. There is a bit of cinnamon spice an apricot to give a few frills, but for the main part it feels like a very traditional bitter, the extra elements seem like bonuses rather than work to eclipse the base bitter style.

I will say it doesn’t in any way push the envelope, instead turning out a competent but not very exciting base beer, however as the word says, it is competently delivered. With the exception of that potato element that brings down everything else in the beer, it is actually a solid and quite enjoyable ale.

Solid, soothing, far from perfect but a nice mix of a few new elements on a traditional ale. I think it deserves better the kicking it’s getting.

Background: Lidl is a very cheap supermarket, and it turns out they commission beers to be made on their behalf – in this case brewed at Wychwood. They are cheap, but not necessarily bad – however considering it is commissioned by a fucking supermarket I find labeling it “Craft Brewed” to be a tad taking the piss, and makes me think that there may be something in getting a definition for that term after all. An idea I previously opposed for a while. This was one of a set of beers provided by my parents while I was back home over Christmas so I decided to give it a review. Many thanks for providing the beer (oh and food, and shelter, and bringing me up, and all the rest)

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