...and it is, indeed. This dram is on eye-level with the 25-years old Caol Ila distillery release with a complex, balanced and flawless Islay profile for less than half of the price. That is what I call a good deal!
In a direct head-to-head to the 2017 Caol Ila OB (WB id 103198) I prefer the OB on the nose but the Lidl Ben Bracken on both taste and finish due to the greater complexity of the longer maturation time. Hey, overall I prefer the Ben Bracken over the 2017 OB Caol Ila (but the 2018 edition of the 25-years old Caol Ila still is a little better).
PS: As long as this is sold for 65 Euro only I suggest to buy a bottle even if you do not like this old Caol Ila profile simply because this a perfect whisky to do a very special blend created by yourself. It will add depth and interesting flavours to your beloved drams, so try to compose a blended malt of your own (you can start with very small quantities until you found your "killing recipe"). This might be a very special (and individual) christmas present to your whisky-loving friends...
[December, 2019] I had this dram during a private vertical Caol Ila tasting session and fully confirm my old review and solid 90 points score. Beside a 1983 vintage (WB id 118872) this was the winning dram of that evening.
The colour is old gold and the nose offers a fine old Caol Ila profile that comes close to the 25-years distillery bottling. Maybe it is a little more shy than the OB but a big spheric blender's glass compensates this easily. All the adorable Caol Ila aromas are there in perfect balance and without any off-note. During breathing the nose looses some steam, unfortunately - so do the nosing experience right after serving the dram.
The taste is layered on sweet honey-sugary flavours first imbedded in strong maritime-peaty notes. Then the fruits jump in and later herbal impressions. The spices are last, as usual and the wood is perfect - not too strong, not too weak. This dram is nicely chewable and I suggest to do so for at least one minute to catch all flavours of this complex profile. No flaw or imbalance, this is the perfect Caol Ila quality that is on eye-level with the 25-years OB and it owns even some more oompf (46% abv versus 43% of the OB). What a nice surprice (for this price)!
The dram arrives warming and instantly coating on the palate without distracting moments. The finish is long and turns sweeter on more fruits with a tasty smokey ending (warm bonfire at the shoreline). Water opens up the nose further with more adorable (citric) fruits and turns the taste smoother hence even more quaffable. I like this dram both neat and a little reduced to 40% abv.