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A Lidl bit of background info (sorry)
Lidl have been making something of a stir with their whisky selection over the past few years. To be honest though, I think we’re now at the stage where it shouldn’t come as any surprise when Lidl release another decent dram at a crazily low price. For years now they’ve been offering whisky drinkers a budget-friendly option.
The supermarket chain’s latest release is a blended malt called Abrachan. That name has been around in one form or another since at least 2013, with Triple Oak and 16 year old versions being available at different times. This latest incarnation, however seems a little more interesting than what has come before. Dubbed “Peated & Smoky” it comprises of “rich and distinct” speyside and highland malts.
To the best of my knowledge, this marks a first dalliance with peated whisky for Lidl, outside of their Ben Bracken single malt range and I find it intriguing that the smoky element hasn’t come from Islay. The label’s “highland” definition could easily include some island malt, of course. Could we have some Jura? Ledaig? Talisker? Highland Park? Does the blend contain spirit from peated highlander Ardmore – or a peated Speyside like Benriach or Benromach? We’ll never know of course, but it’s fun to consider the possibilities.
This release is also the first time I’ve noticed a bit of a backstory on a Lidl label. Apparently the Abrachan was a mythical beast that roamed the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, tormenting villages and scorching the land with its fiery breath. Its smoke permeated their barley crop and flavoured their whisky, changing the way Scotch whisky was made forever.
Now, I’m all for a wee daft story with my dram. In fact my love for Scottish folklore means I’m more open to a bit of marketing bollocks than the vast majority of whisky bloggers. Even I think this is a bit half-arsed though. I’ve no problem with mythology being featured in whisky marketing but whatever this story is, it isn’t really Scottish.
In truth, we don’t really have fire-breathing dragons in Scotland. I mean, of course we don’t. No-one does! What I mean is they don’t really feature much in our legends. The beasts in our myths tend to be described as worms or serpents like the Stoorworm of Orkney, or the Beithir that live in dank caves and defend themselves with a poisonous sting. This is a country of selkies and kelpies and banshee and faeries, of grey men and blue men and of the mighty Loch Ness monster. With mythology as good as all that, why couldn’t Lidl come up with something better than the old fire breathing dragon stuff?
Abrachan joins the Ben Bracken single malt range and the Queen Margot blended Scotch on the Lidl shelves. Bottled at 41% it retails for £16.
Paul McQuade, head of buying spirits at Lidl GB, said: “We worked hard to create a blended malt that welcomes new whisky drinkers and connoisseurs alike with something a little different. Its unusual bottle, incredible flavour and great price make it a standout dram. Bringing a blended malt whisky to our shelves at such great value is testament to our commitment to offering premium Scottish products to our shoppers at unbeatable prices.”
Smell: Rich, spicy nose with subtle smoke. Notes of raisins and toffee. Caramel. Cinnamon and clove. Earthy smoke. Water brings out some honey and orange peel.
Taste: Big arrival! Lots of oak and dried fruits. Dark chocolate. Coffee. Water brings out some malty notes and some fruity apple comes through.
Thoughts: Lidl has already redefined what bargain whisky can be but with Abrachan it seems they have raised the bar even further. No £16 whisky has any right to pack this much character.
I’ve tried enough good whisky from Lidl that I go into these reviews expecting a decent dram but I was still surprised by how good this actually was. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s the best I’ve bought from them thus far. It’s richly flavoured with good weight on the palate and the smoky finish lingers for a pleasing amount of time. Honestly, I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you paid £40 for this, never mind £16. A new standard in budget-friendly whisky?