Cheap Sips - Part 2


Today we revisit our ongoing series Cheap Sips. Here we look at more budget friendly bottles. Our goal here is to find the diamonds in the rough. In these articles we’re going to limit ourselves to a maximum of £50 a bottle and focus on whiskies that are available all year round.

First up we’re heading to one of Speysides’ most popular distilleries…

Glenfarclas 10

Region: Speyside

ABV: 40%

Price: £33

Glenfarclas 10 year old is 100% matured in oloroso sherry casks. Looking at the colour of the whisky it’s a safe assumption these casks are refill. Not that necessarily a bad thing. We’re big fans of refill sherry, and are looking forward to trying this again.

Nose

There's an initial hit of malt, some apricot and simple sherry notes. There's a fair amount of new make spirit character presents as well. Going back to the nose again there’s some wood soaked in orange liqueur, and underripe banana.

Palate

Fresh tropical fruit soaked in sugar syrup, a fair alcohol bite, but quite viscous and mouth coating, almost oily. Fudge, grown up coco pops, some light brandy notes. Finish is quite short.

Nose (water)

Now we’re getting more heavily charred wood, some pecan nuts, and a little bit of funk that was hidden before the addition of water.

Palate (water)

This is bitter oak coated in molasses, some warm raisin-based jam, and mocha laced with Casis. Personally, we wouldn’t add water to this.

Conclusion

A simple sherried whisky, nothing too offensive and no off-flavours, but nothing to write home about. Consistent Glenfarclas flavour for those who love it. A good introduction to the world of sherried whiskies without jumping into the deep end, both in flavour and in price. However it’s just a touch too boring for us.

Score: 6/10 

Glen Marnoch Islay (Aldi)

Region: Islay

ABV: 40%

Price: £16.99

Ok, so we’re going super budget next with an Aldi supermarket exclusive. This has been matured for three years, and looking at the colour we’d bet that this has been chill filtered, and had caramel colouring liberally applied.

Nose

Hints of peat, iodine, lightly roasted meats, and seaweed. Vanilla starts to appear after some air, then buttered white bread, and light oak. There’s also a new make spirit note that’s fairly prominent.

Palate

On the palate there’s some peanut butter, refined sugar, smoked haddock, and a little sourness. Shortish watery finish on this. This is quite one dimensional.

Nose (water)

With water lots more dirt and mud surfaces, some mustiness, wet blankets, and lemon pepper seasoning.

Palate (water)

This is now just stale water with a touch of lingering peat and an overwhelmingly sweet note. Nope, not enjoying this.

Conclusion

Firstly, don’t add water as it ruins the dram. For £17 it’s hard to complain too much, and if it wasn’t for the new make note on the nose this would probably be a point higher.

If you only had £20 to spend and really wanted something peated then go for this as we can’t think of a cheaper Islay, but personally in the sub £20 range we’d give up on the prominent peat and look at Johnnie Walker Red over this.

Score: 5/10 

Bruichladdich - The Classic Laddie

Region: Islay

ABV: 50%

Price: £39.00

Ok, so first up you should know that the Classic Laddie is produced in batches and as such can vary from year to year in taste, as Bruichladdich are aiming to showcase the “house style” as opposed to being consistent in flavour. FYI this review is based on batch 20/109.

As an aside, we really appreciate distilleries that take this approach. It will be impossible to get the same flavour in every single bottle of a release from year to year and aiming for a style with slight variations in colour and flavour will keep us coming back to try it again and again.

Nose

The nose opens with barley, a breezy day on islay, malt, sea salt, cardamom, toffee brittle, and Magners apple cider.

Palate

Initially on the palate we’re getting apple sauce, pineapple, hint of wood, tobacco, touch of ethanol, and strawberry cream candy sweets. The finish here is spicy and peppery, but not unpleasant.

Nose (water)

With water the nose gains milk, cream, caramel, and vanilla marshmallows dipped in chocolate. The water has helped to remove some of the maltiness from the nose.

Palate (water)

Water has tamed the ethanol bite and brought with it cranberries and brown sugar. There’s now warm chilli spice finish.

Conclusion

Given it’s a non age statement release we’d prefer it’d was a few quid cheaper, but it’s still a tasty for its price range. While batches can vary in taste we’ve tried enough of the classic laddie over the years to be able to recommend it.

Score: 8/10 

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

And that’s all folks. If you’d tried any of these we’d be interested in hearing you thoughts in the comments below. We’d also be interested to hear what other whiskies you’d like us to review in future articles.

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