Category Archives: Supermarket Whiskey

3 Whiskeys For Under €20

With whiskey prices inevitably spiraling northwards & putting many punters out of the buying game – it’s still possible to find a selection of whiskeys for under €20.

At this price point you can hardly expect non chill filtering, natural colour, fanciful back stories, the strain of barley used nor the name of the field it grew in – what you get is plain simple unpretentious whiskey.

Here’s a few I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Clontarf Trinity c/othewhiskeynut

Clontarf Classic Blend, 40%, Aldi

I found Clontarf to be a robust little number.

‘It’d put hairs on yer chest’ some would say – but I say it possesses a proud character all of it’s own.

Plain simple & straightforward ex-bourbon cask matured.

It hits the mark.

Nice! c/othewhiskeynut

Old Samuel Bourbon, 40%, Tesco

It’s cheap, it’s cheerful & it’s more enjoyable than some well established brands.

Nice!

Tasty! c/othewhiskeynut

JG Kinsey Special Reserve, 40%, Dunnes

This one took me by surprise.

It had flavour, depth & a bit of a pedigree too.

I polished it off in a week – which is highly unusual.

Very pleasant.

Under €20

Being under €20 is no barrier to good taste or flavour. The above 3 demonstrate the variety that is available. Something to suit all palates. You may have to try a few to get the one that satisfies – but at the price point – that’s part of the adventure!

Happy hunting!

Sláinte

JG Kinsey, Special Reserve, Blended Scotch, 40%

Wow!

This one gives a lot!

I picked up this bargain basement blend working my way through all the whiskeys available in my local Dunnes Stores.

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JG Kinsey founded 1892 c/othewhiskeynut

JG Kinsey also comes with gin & vodka options & I had it down as a store brand.

WRONG!

Jacob G Kinsey was an american gentleman who founded the Linfield Distillery in 1892. Pennsylvania was – and still is – associated with rye whiskey. A successful business flourished, floundered, merged & was subsumed into the giant International Beverage Holdings Group.

Kinsey’s name lives on with this current offering – plus numerous blogs & posts about the now abandoned plant at Linfield.

Linfield
Linfield Distillery c/opre-pro.com

Interestingly New Liberty Distillery in Philadelphia – who have a connection with Connacht Whiskey in Ballina – also name check Kinsey with a range of Bourbon, Rye & American Whiskey.

With all this proud heritage – would the liquid inside the bottle deliver?

Well the nose had that sweetly honeyed, richly caramelised aroma – with a touch of depth.

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Some pedigree c/othewhiskeynut

As the label states – it was definitely smooth – but the body displayed a lovely wholesomeness which flourished on the finish into a gorgeously drying spiciness.

The source of this depth no doubt comes from the more meaty style of malts produced at the Balmenach, Balblair & Speyburn distilleries of the InterBev Group.

They give the blend a more robust kind of ‘Highland’ appeal – which suits my palate.

A bargain basement beauty!

Sláinte

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Waitrose 3 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

In London for the weekend – waking up to Brexitland – I needed a drink.

All the supermarket stores do their own label Scotch.

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Waitrose 3yo c/othewhiskeynut

Waitrose’s is a 3yo proclaiming itself  ‘Rich and Warming’.

It’s certainly rich – with added caramel – which dominated the taste for me.

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Back c/othewhiskeynut

There were hints of fresh young malt & sweet grain underneath – and it is warming – but those caramelly notes lingered.

Basic entry level fare.

Slàinte

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Ben Bracken, Triple Pack, Single Malts, 40%

I’m a big fan of miniatures.

The opportunity to try out a range of styles – or in this case regions – before committing to a full bottle is always a treat.

Having said that. I’d already ruled out buying more supermarket own brand labels. They tend to be chill filtered with added caramel & whilst perfectly fine – they lack finesse.

But spotting these miniatures in my local Lidl.

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A tasty trio! c/othewhiskeynut

I couldn’t pass them by.

Nosing the Speyside first – I choose to do Speyside – Highland – Islay starting from mildest to strongest flavours as recommended by many tasting journals – revealed a pleasant easy honeyed malt.

On a blind tasting this would sit well with any big label brand.

The palate was a bit watery & insignificant to begin with – common to all three malts – before a typical Speyside softly sweet & gentle flavour profile presented itself.

There was even a slight dry spice on the short finish.

Not bad at all.

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Which region is your preference? c/othewhiskeynut

The Highland gave a bit more malt biscuity depth to the proceedings.

The Islay – which was my favourite – offered a straight forward satisfying smoky hit.

Each gave a perfectly decent snapshot of the regional styles – perhaps lacking in depth & complexity – but nonetheless an extremely enjoyable way of discerning your palates preferences.

Nice one Lidl!

Slàinte

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Irish Reserve 12 Year Old, Single Malt, 40%

Aldi continue their well received own label Irish Reserve series with a 12 year old single malt.

Tastefully packaged in a light green bottle with a thick neck & cork stopper – Irish Reserve 12 uses the same attractive label design as previous 26yo and similar 4yo offerings.

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Irish Reserve 12yo c/thewhiskeynut

At only €25 – I couldn’t resist.

A golden brown hue in the glass.

Sweet honeyed nose – delicate & restrained.

The palate was soft & warm. No real flavour explosion – just pleasant easy drinking with a gentle drying prickliness at the end.

After the richness & depth of the 26yo – or the fresh graininess of the 4yo – this 12yo left me a tad disappointed.

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Basic info, basic single malt. c/othewhiskeynut

Like a decent Speyside – it was smooth & easy.  Just lacking a certain sparkle or character to engage me.

Having said that – it’s obviously a popular style.  My bottle was the last on the shelf.

Get it while you can!

Slàinte

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Hunter’s Glen, 5 Year Old, Premium Scotch Whisky, Blend, 40%

Random town.

I was away for a few days taking advantage of the fine weather.

Random pub.

Entering a bar for the first time always engenders a sense of excitement.

Random whisky.

You never know what to expect.

Spotting the large green label of Hunter’s Glen on the shelf – it immediately stood out as something I’d not had before.

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Hunter’s Glen Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Establishing it was Scotch Whisky and not rum – either would have been acceptable – a glass was ordered.

Mmmmmm.

Standard entry level blend material.

Caramelly nose, sweet, smooth & soft with a hint of smoke enlivening an otherwise easy drinking experience.

But who or what is Hunter’s Glen?

The front label states ‘Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Company’, who are part of the Whyte & Mackay group specialising in supermarket blends for Lidl.

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All the way from Greece? c/othewhiskeynut

The back label does mention Lidl, but of Greek origin.

Quite how it ended up in a bar in the West of Ireland is beyond me.

But as a whisky with no pretensions or provenance – I enjoyed it for what it is – a perfectly acceptable everyday sipper with a slightly smoky tingly dryness on the finish.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.

O’Neill’s Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

It seems every time I shop in my local Dunnes store there’s a new Irish Whiskey out!

Sporting what I’d describe as a classic green bottle topped with a red screw cap & traditional looking label – O’Neill’s appears to be a no nonsense style of whiskey.

Proclaiming to be of ‘Fine Spirit’ & ‘Smooth Blended’ the label has minimal information.

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Alfresco whiskey tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

Double Cask Matured is stated – with no mention of which casks – and produced by West Cork Distillers for what I assume is a Dunnes store brand – it made my basket.

And then my Túath glass.

Quite a rich golden hued colour for what I take is a young whiskey.

The nose is rather soft, sweet & honeyed.

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Minimal info c/othewhiskeynut

More engaging on the palate. The sweetness suggests a sherry cask influence – along with bourbon cask maturation – giving a bit of depth & body to the blend.

The grain element gradually kicks in with a little heat & soft prickliness.

A gentle spice rounds off the finish.

O’Neill’s delivers a decent straight down the line blended whiskey experience at an affordable price.

On a back to back with it’s Ardfallen sister, I found O’Neill’s a more sherried & rounded whiskey – making it worth the extra few euro.

Hats off to West Cork!Good Logo

A Blind Whiskey Tasting

I have a few sample jars that go back & forth among some fellow whiskey fans.

It’s a handy way for all to try out unknown bottles before committing to buying – or not as the case may be!

Going blind – in this instance with samples A and C – adds to the fun.

There are no preconceived ideas based on distillery, country, whether caramel has been added or not, or even if it’s a blend, a grain or a single malt offering.

It’s simply 2 measures of whiskey – and your palate.

How much more honest can that be?

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A & C tasting notes before the reveal. c/othewhiskeynut

Sample A 

I found this nice, clean & fresh. A little paler than sample C but an inviting nose with summer fruits tempted me in.

The palate was quite light, reminiscent of sherry cask influence, with a touch of spice & an enjoyably prickly finish which lasted a long time.

A straight down the line decent dram.

Sample C

Darker. Both in terms of colour as well as nose. More stone fruits than summer orchard with a slight funkiness I couldn’t pin down.

The taste was mellower. Charred cask influence perhaps, with a dark sweetness suggestive of rum or port cask maturation.

The finish faded rather quickly. Possibly a more youthful expression.

My choice

Of the 2, Sample C was more intriguing. It suited my palate better & I was keen to find out what it was.

The reveal

Chivas Regal 18
Chivas Regal 18 c/oshopsupervalu.ie

Sample A – Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Blend, 40%

Abrachan
Abrachan Triple Oak Blended Malt c/oLidl

Sample C – Abrachan Blended Malt, 42%

The Abrachan from Lidl at €25 had me better entertained as to what was going on than the more cultured Chivas 18yo at €80!

For further info – the Chivas 18 is a blend of up to 20 different malt & grain whiskies.

The Abrachan is a blended malt aged in charred American oak barrels, sherry casks & port casks. As a non aged statement (NAS) whisky it’s undoubtedly a lot younger than 18 – but for a blind taste comparison it had me hooked.

Congratulations to Lidl!

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The Joy Of Pubs, Teacher’s vs Highland Earl, Blends, 40%

There was an article in the Irish Times the other day about rural development & Gort happened to feature.

Picking up the paper in the town itself after an enjoyable evening topped off the experience.

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Gort in the news. c/othewhiskeynut

The revelry started with a meal at The Gallery Cafe in the Square. A popular spot offering great food & some tasty  beers to boot.

Kinnegar’s Rustbucket Rye Ale washed down my burger delightfully as we chatted outside on the terrace taking advantage of the warm evening sunshine.

15B092-Kinnegar-Rustbucket-50cl-Btl
Kinnegar Rye Ale c/oOBriensWine

A bar was selected afterwards & Cummins on Main Street suited us.

Garishly coloured on the outside & embazoned with GAA murals we entered into a trad session being played in the corner by a group of local musicians with a small gathering of drinkers happily tapping along.

teachers-blended-scotch-whisky
Teacher’s c/oMasterOfMalt

The usual whiskey suspects lined the shelves, Powers, Paddys & Jameson being the standards – a Teacher’s was there too and I fancied a peat hit so went with it.

Teacher’s is a well established blend of Scotch Whisky. A bit on the rough & ready side, sweet peat & a little spirity, but you know what you’re getting.

Chatting away I scanned the shelves for something I’d not had before & spotted a couple of bottles half hidden behind others.

Highland Earl Special Reserve was duly ordered on the next round.

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Highland Earl c/othewhiskeynut

Now Highland Earl is an Aldi brand. An entry level one at that too – and I’d hesitated buying one after having a tad too many caramel laden blends in the past – but being in a bar is a fabulous way to sample it.

My first nosing raised a smile.

A decent waft of balanced peat greeted me.

Wasn’t expecting that!

The palate was more mellow & soothing than the Teacher’s. Yes there is added caramel & yes there is probably chill filtering – but then so has Teacher’s.

If anything Highland Earl lived up to it’s – admittedly low level – titled status by being a step up in enjoyment from the recognisable big brand.

Now the bar’s bottle seems to be an old offering. There is no age statement as with the current 3 Year Old release – and a tagline on the label proclaims it to be a 2010 IWSC Winner!

So I can’t vouch if what is on sale now matches the bottle I tried – but what I can say is the Earl entertained me for the rest of the evening!

Oh the joy of pubs & the simple pleasures of a decent peated blend!

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Ardfallen, Premium Blend Irish Whiskey, 40%

Aldi had a surprise in store for me with this recently released Irish Whiskey.

Sporting an attractively embossed label, Ardfallen Irish Whiskey proclaims to be a premium blend – but at only €19 this seems unlikely.

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Premium label for sure! c/othewhiskeynut

I bought it anyway – always keen to try out something new.

The label gives little information; triple distilled, non chill filtered, blend #8 (whatever happened to the other 7?) & ‘Distilled and matured in Cork, Ireland’.

That narrows it down to 2 distilleries – you can choose either East or West Cork – my money is on West.

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Ardfallen back label. c/othewhiskeynut

So what’s it like?

A lovely golden hue.

Has that added caramel nose of an entry level blend – but with a hint of maltiness in the background.

Soft & easy on the palate.

Slowly growing gentle heat builds with a bit of character leaving an engaging prickly tingle.

No real complexity or depth.

Just a pleasant easy going sipper of a whiskey.

Aldi continue to deliver attractively priced enjoyable whiskey.

Sláinte

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