Somehow, Dutch newspapers and practically every news outlet in north-western Europe was raving about Lidl bottling a whisky that scores 95.5 points in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
Of course, not a single self respecting whisky fanatic reads those scores, since this awesome 34 year old sherried blend from the discount supermarket only scores half a point higher than the regular Jameson did last year. Yes, that entry level blend also sits in the upper echelons of whisky greatness, according to Mr. Murray.
Apart from that, the reviews of the Glenalba were pretty good in general, so when I happened to be in Scotland last year with my friends I had to pick it up. What also helped is that I was in Speyside just a few days after my birthday and I was made in 1981, like this whisky.
Also, a 34 year old whisky at 50 quid is a good deal, even if it tastes only so-so.
The nose is very, very gentle, but has a bitter edge because of the sherry and wood for 34 years. Lots of gentle oaky notes with lots and lots of sherry. A focus on dates, plums and figs. Some minty freshness behind it and some leafy notes like ferns. The dewy fresh green stuff, so to say.
The palate starts very light, which is no surprise at 40% ABV. It does get a tad richer with hints of dried fruits (dates, plums). Fresh, dry oak too.
The finish is a bit drier, but rich and quite long. Dates, and slightly bitter almonds.
After getting the link about the Lidl whisky sent to me by approximately everyone on the internet I decided I had to review it, and share it. So, I took the whisky to work and it was enjoyed. I took it to my friends for New Year’s Eve, with whom I was in Scotland when I got it. Again, it was enjoyed.
The general reaction to this whisky is not, however, that this is more or less the best thing since sliced bread. It’s good, it’s very good, and it’s incredible for 50 quid (back then still some 70 euros). However, rating this in the same league as Brora, Port Ellen and the finest single malts the world has to offer doesn’t make any sense at all.
Should you get this whisky if you can? Yes. Should you expect it to be the be all, end all whisky you try? No.
Glenalba 34yo, 1981-2015, 40%. No longer available, but they’ve released a new one at 35 years old that you might be able to get.
Nice review! I bought the 35 years old Glen Alba from Lidl last year. It was the first “high-class” whisky from a discounter that I ever bought and I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. With hindsight, I’m a bit sad though that I did not order their 22 years old Islay single malt as well… maybe next time. 😉
One of my friends bought the 11yo Islay (Ben Bracken, I believe) and it’s okay, but not really good. In that case there’s other, better things to get with the money. Like a bottle of Lagavulin 16 or so…