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Lidl supermarkets have offered up some excellent whiskies over the years. I was particularly impressed with the Abrachan blended malt, for example. During a recent visit to my local branch, however, their 5-year-old Glen Orchy caught my eye. I picked up a bottle of this stuff many years ago. Around 2014, if memory serves. Certainly it was before this blog was a thing. At the time I enjoyed it for what it was but I was interested to see if it still impressed, several years later.
Lidl tend to pick any name that sounds vaguely Scottish for their whiskies but in this case they have at least opted for a real place. Glen Orchy follows the River Orchy through the Caledonian Forest in Argyll and Bute. It runs 11 miles from Bridge of Orchy to Dalmally. The area was once home to Clan Gregor but after the massacre of more than 140 Colquhouns at the Battle of Glen Fruin, the clan was outlawed by King James VI. Even bearing the name, MacGregor, was punishable by death.
Today, Glen Orchy is an area of spectacular natural beauty that’s devoid of human interference, save for a B-road and a few isolated buildings. There is, however, a small settlement of around 300 people at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu in the South Island of New Zealand which is named Glenorchy after the Scottish valley. The area was one of the locations used in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Lidl have won countless awards for their whiskies over the years and this Glen Orchy is no different. The label carries a Gold Medal from Meiningers International Spirits Award and a Silver from the World Whiskies Awards. I’m aware that there are so many spirits awards that the meaning behind such things is rendered largely redundant but it’s still relatively noteworthy that a 5 year old blended malt that only costs £15 has gained some recognition.
Glen Orchy is a 5-year-old blended malt, bottled at 40%. It retails for £15.99.
Smell: Malty. Honey. Vanilla. Toffee. Orange and lemon. Some gentle woody spice. Subtle char notes. There’s an interesting freshness that makes me think of cucumber. Touch of pepper and is that a gentle wisp of smoke at the back there? Some apple and pear came through with water.
Taste: You wouldn’t call it full-bodied but it doesn’t feel too lightweight on the palate. Lots of toffees and caramel notes. Honey. Oaky spice. Wee bit of cinnamon and ginger. Very light touch of peat. Water parted the new oak and made things more malty. Almost creamy. Some light, almost Speyside-like, orchard fruit notes.
Thoughts: The label says the whisky combines the flavours of the Lowlands, Highlands, Campbeltown and Islay. The more divisive character traits of the latter two regions seem to have been kept in check, however. Perhaps it’s just that my palate is too accustomed to drinking the heavily peated stuff but I only picked up the faintest of smoke influence here. Despite only being 40% I felt it needed a little splash of water. Prior to that I was picking up a lot of new oak. Almost as though the whisky has been in virgin oak or perhaps even rejuvenated barrels? Nevertheless, it’s not a bad little dram. Not the most complex but there’s a fullness to the flavour and Lidl deserve kudos for proudly stating its age on the label.
Value for money: You really can’t argue with the price. For just £15.99 you get yourself a perfectly drinkable malt whisky with some decent depth of flavour. A genuine option if you’re on a tight budget.
For more on Lidl whisky visit https://www.lidl.co.uk/c/spirits/c768