If you want to pick up a decent whisky with your weekly shop, Rosalind Erskine takes a look at some of the best supermarket whiskies.
Over the last few years the perception of whisky has started to shift from an expensive, old man’s drink to be enjoyed neat or over ice to a diverse and exciting range of drams that can be used in cocktails, drunk on sunny days and be enjoyed by everyone.
Due to this, more and more people are trying whisky and one of the best places to pick up an affordable bottle are the main supermarkets.
Generally this information isn’t in the public domain, as they can come from big name distilleries (under contract) or independent bottlers. There have been some exceptions over the years, including a 12 year old Tesco single malt which featured the signature of Whyte & Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson.
Over the last few years the quality of own brand supermarket whiskies has greatly improved. Aldi and Lidl, by far, have the biggest range of options and a few have consistently won awards. Both Lidl and Aldi’s whiskies have names that don’t relate to the distillery, but have been made up to create a range, such as Ben Bracken or Glen Marnoch.
From own brand sweet Speyside single malts to smoky Islay whiskies, the main supermarket whiskies include a great range of drams that'll suit all tastes - some even award-winning. Here we take a look at some of the best that you can pick up with your next weekly shop.
Best for: enjoying on cold nights
Lidl has won multiple awards for its range of whiskies, the most recent of which was a Ben Bracken that was launched in late 2020 and is a 16 year old smoky Islay single malt.
Whisky expert Blair Bowman dubbed the single malt “An incredibly moreish dram, perfect for the colder winter months”.
Tasting notes: On the nose there’s a salty smokiness, and on the palate you’ll find bonfire smoke, bananas, apples and oranges.
Buy it here: Lidl Ben Bracken Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Best for: a sipping whisky
Aldi’s Glen Marnoch has won awards including a Scotch Whisky Masters. This Speyside single malt is rich and fruity and a great example of the style of whisky available from Scotland’ most prolific whisky producing region.
Tasting notes: On the nose there’s vanilla, which follows on the palate along with oakiness and malt.
Buy it here: Aldi Glen Marnoch
Best for: pairing with chocolate
This whisky is made from a blend of whiskies that have been aged for a minimum of five years before being blended and left to marry together for up to three months in American oak bourbon barrels.
Tasting notes:This is light on the nose with hints of honey and vanilla on the palate.
Buy it here: Morrisons The Best Blended Malt Whisky
Best for: cocktails
This whisky is a complex and rich dram that’s fruity and aromatic. It’ll stand up well in a cocktail, but is also very good neat or over ice.
Tasting notes: on the nose there’s honey and on the palate you may find ripe stone fruits, more honey and vanilla.
Buy it here: Aldi Glen Orrin 12 Year Old Blended Whisky
Best for: a bargain
Asda also has a blended Scotch that's cheap, cheerful and ideal for mixing. It has mixed reviews, but you can’t go wrong with this one for cocktails or drinking with a mixer such as coke.
Tasting notes: hints of cinnamon, honey and vanilla.
Buy it here: ASDA McKendrick's Blended Scotch Whisky 3 Years Old
Best for: a cocktail party
Tesco has its own brand blended Special Reserve Scotch whisky, which at £16 for a litre. With decent reviews, this three year old blend would be ideal for cocktails.
Tesco also often does good discounts (mainly for those with a Clubcard) on well-known single malts, including Laphraoig.
Tasting notes:On the nose there’s vanilla, and the palate is smooth and sweet.
Buy it here: Tesco Special Reserve Scotch Whisky
Best for: A hot toddy
This well rounded whisky is made from a blend of single malts and grain whiskies. It’s good served neat but is best for cocktails or a hot toddy for when the winter sets in.
Buy it here: M&S Blended Scotch Whisky
Best for: old fashioneds
This is quite a rich whisky, making it ideal in a classic drink such as an old fashioned. Its fruity, spicy and tangy notes make it a well balanced dram that’s available at a great price.
Tasting notes: On the nose there’s a spiciness, while on the palate there’s Christmas cake, orange and chocolate notes. The finish is warming and spicy.
Best whisky glasses: from crystal to tumblers, budget to Glencairn, from Amazon to ASDA
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