Whisky Review – Battle of The Blends


Battle of The Blends – blend A

42.1% ABV

Colour. Golden


Lots of sherry notes on first pour. Raisin, Christmas cake, clove and cinnamon spice. There is some oak char, giving a small amount of smokiness. We have vanilla coming through now, custard covering the Christmas pudding. A very deep and flavoursome nose, evolving very quickly in the glass, some mild wood glue and varnish, I would be surprised of some older aged whiskies in this blend. The nose already gives a sign of chewy goodness, with lots of chocolate covered cherries soaked in booze. It’s a good noser for sure, I just got some up my nose I’m going in so deep! Spiced apple pie mix now. Cinnamon. Oooo, it’s nice. 


Richly sweet honey, thick on the mouth feel comes first in the arrival, with a development full of sticky fruitcake, more honey, chocolate, sweet and sour cherries, rum and raisin and some treacle toffee. It’s all very lovely balanced and easy, nothing in the way of intense smoke or peat, but as a sherried blend goes it’s very nicely put together. 


Short-medium length finish, warming in all the right places. Stoned fruits soaked in brandy fades away, with some charred oak gentle edging in the final moments. 

Adding water. 

Small drop added. A touch more wood smoke is up front now on the nose and the sherried intensity is dialled down a few notches. The palate is toned down slightly in the fruit and now has a little more oak sour coming in, chewing on the cherry stones a little rather than experiencing the flesh. The finish is slightly shorter, slightly more sour, and drier in the final moments. It’s nice, but I prefer neat. 


Thoroughly enjoyable stuff. I really do like this, but I wonder if it’s a little too intense for a blend. Given this blind(er) I would have sworn this a malt. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the prices and the contents and if this is being bottled right now rather than the who made it. It’s very nice. Ticks my boxes well and truly. Well done you!?!

Battle of The Blends – blend B

43.5% ABV

Colour. Amber. 


On first pour we have gentle peat smoke, slightly medicinal, and lots of floral heather honey. There’s more fruit coming through after a little wait, some more spices as well. We have a bounty of stewed green fruits. Apples, pears, and some citrus coming through. Oranges. Cinnamon infused custard is also very prominent. There’s a little more sherry influence coming in as well with the smokiness experienced on first pour disappearing quite a bit. Some more confectionary notes now. Powdered sugar, cake mix, Twinkie cakes! It’s quite a changing nose and very enjoyable. 


Ripe green apples, boiled up and spiced with cinnamon. Some pepper. A little earthy peat smoke. The mouth feel is oily-ish, certainly more than your average blend. Development moved into the cake domain, with some lovely autumn berry jamminess behind it. It’s a cake and confectionary delight, with some sweet lemon juices coming in towards the end of the development. 


Medium-long length. Leaves a lovely vanilla cake with jam (Victoria sponge) thing behind, which lasts for a nice duration. Again a lovely warmth on the chest. 

Adding water. 

Small drop added. Things have got more floral and a little smokier. The smoke is coming from a heather field aflame rather than wood or peat. The palate has more earthiness, with some herbal elements coming in, slight liquorice root and a touch of Parma violet. The finish is more about the floral and herbal than the sponge cake of the undiluted. I actually like this one both ways with and without water. One to experiment with. 


I suspect this blend has component parts. Which are of similar, although I suspect slightly younger than blend A. It is beautifully constructed and has a little more for everyone. 

Final choice. 

I want to pick A. But Blend B is my choice. Blend A actually ticks more of my personal flavour profile boxes, but as an overall blend experience is concerned, for complexity and balance reasons I would buy B over A! But I would probably get both. Depending on the price!

Something extra. 

As I started nosing blend B I thought I’d just put a bit of each in a separate glass and see what happens. 6ml of each blend with separate pipettes were removed and placed together, swirled and sat with a cover while I completed my notes. Here’s the combo thoughts. 

Nose. Actually getting more smoke in this combo blend. A great big fruit salad going on, soaked in booze and with a Christmas cake in the center. 

Palate. Ok, it’s a little overwhelming, but I quite like this! Blend A’s profile is taking the front, but with added duration and development and the sponge cake stuff gets involved quite nicely. 

Finish. Medium-long. Lots of fruit and cake, cherry muffins! Going on for quite a while and is quite delightful. 

I propose a new winner…Me. :). Tried mixing them?

Actual results. 

Whisky magazine just announced on their Facebook page that blend A got the majority of the votes at 59% (close!!!) and that blends creator was Neil Ridley. Well done Neil!
Thanks to Whisky Magazine for providing the review samples. 

Whisky Review – Asda Extra Special Islay Single Malt Whisky

Asda Extra Special Islay Single Malt Whisky

40% ABV

~£22.00 from Asda


I’m setting myself a mission on the run up to Christmas to try some of the mid range supermarket own brand whiskies and write reviews for them. There aren’t enough reviews out there of these whiskies, and they are often overlooked because of the supermarket name on the label. Time to see if they should be ignored of if this is a falsehood and your missing out on a particular taste sensation or superbargain. 


It’s a stinky one (in a v good way). Twiglets. Barbecue beef ribs. Road tar. The smoke is partially medicinal, partially twiggy bonfire. Dry herbal sweets. Cough candy twists. Liquorice. A touch of bandage and hospital waiting rooms. Sour apples. Ozone. A little fishiness, some mackerel alongside the ribs on the BBQ. That’s quite an intensive Islay experience right there. 


Sweet, a touch watery in the arrival. Then earthy grass and moss in abundance. Peat reek and sweetness coming into the development. More grass and dry earth, straw, dry liquorice root, more indescribable herbal notes, cigarettes, a touch of tart citrus. Lip smacking. Now some jelly fruit sweeties are coming through. This is one that changes around quite a lot from sip to sip. Yes, more fruit now, apples, sweet citrus, sweet peat, pear drops. There’s an awful lot going on here. 


Medium length finish. Has lots of fizzy fruit refresher sweets. Peat. Wet green grass. A touch of oak. Dry liquorice. Those herbal sweets and cough candy twist are a nice leftover. 

Adding water. 

After a few drops of water added the nose has become more herbal, with heather flowers thrown onto the BBQ for good measure, there is also an added layer of dirt, making this very interesting indeed, extraordinarily complex. The palate is also got this extra herbal nature to it, also a touch more meatiness in the development. The finish is smokier. Breathing out after party sip is reminiscent of a good menthol cigarette. 


This is a fundamentally complex and beautifully constructed whisky. I’m really quite taken aback. There is a real massive peat moment here to be had a fraction of the cost of the peaty whiskies out there at the moment. I’m getting some more of this. 

Value for money. Without a shadow of a doubt. Bargain.

Would I buy more? No question. On my way to Asda now if I hadn’t had a few drams.

Which distillery? Well, I would guess at Laphroaig, but then this could be a Caol Ila at a different pleating level to the official bottlings. I’m not sure it’s worth a guess, there’s something very Bowmore about it as well…lets just say it’s definitely Islay! 

From my own stash of fascination.