I called this H2H `The Dirty Dozen`, not in a derogatory way but because all 12 of these blends (latest versions) are all under £20 the actual price points here are £13-£20 UK sterling
All these bottles are available either in supermarkets or on line and all, apart from the Highland Black have no age statement.
I wanted the 11 NAS bottles to be tested against the Aldi whiskey, as I have heard decent comments about the Aldi whiskey and at £12.99 it was the cheapest here, the most expensive was the Bushmills Original. I was only originally going to do Scotch blends but thought in the interests of fair play to have a couple of Irish in the mix.
RESULT , all bottles are 2021 releases
1st - Highland Black Distiller’s Reserve 8 year 40% Aldi
2nd - Grant’s Family Reserve 40%
3rd-The Famous Grouse 40% (mini)
4th- High Commissioner 40%
5th-Bell’s Original 40%
6th- Scottish Leader 40%
7th - JW Red Label 40%
8th- Teacher’s Highland Cream 40%
9th -Jameson triple distilled 40%
10th- Black Bottle 40% (mini)
11th- Bushmills Original White label 40% OB
12th- Dewar’s White Label 40%
There were common threads through most of these whiskies, they were quite light, many had green apple notes, some had vanilla and many of them were much sweeter than a single malt which was to be expected.
My palate is suited to blends, probably because they are generally sweeter but also because I am very sensitive to woody bitterness and sulphur, which you do not get with young blends.
My scoring may surprise some but, on this site many punters seem to like to knock blends and give them low scores for the sake of it. In my view this is because it is seen as the right thing to do to show you are a single malt person, to show you are a knowledgeable drinker, which is bollocks of course.
I see comments like bland, no taste, no finish and score likes 28, 32, 40 etc, which in my view are unfair and show that people are just following the well-trodden curve to bash cheap blends.
I see many times in supermarkets, men of a certain age just walk up to the whiskey Isle and just go straight to the Bell’s, Teacher’s or Whyte Mackay, they know what they like and stick to it., they cannot all be wrong, they are looking for value in their budget, they have been drinking for many years, and know a good buy when they see it.
In this tasting there was only one complete duffer with and that was the Dewar’s White Label, and the Bushmills original was better but I would not purchase either of these again. Sure none of them were big on depth of profile or multi layered, that is the whole point of a blend, an easy sipper.
For what it is worth I would be happy to buy the top 9 bottles in this tasting again as a repeat purchase.
This was a fun tasting, before I started I was expecting the Famous Grouse, Teacher’s and Bell’s to do ok and was also expecting the Aldi Highland Black to score high because it is meant to be good at its price point.
I have been honest in my assessment, The Highland Black as £13 is great value, tastes nice and is a good daily sipper and deserved to be on top.
The Famous Grouse and Grants were all good and substantiated why they are so well regarded. The High Commissioner pleasantly surprised me and is worth an honourable mention.
If you do not like really sweet whiskey blends like this will not be for you especially the JW Red Label, which is syrupy sweet, similarly if you like your tongue ripped out by massive peat or swamped by old woody sherry, this sort of whiskey will not interest you.
Finally, there is definitely a place for Scotch whiskey blends or Irish Whiskey and as prices for daily drinkers increase, whiskey like this may come into focus with some people more and more