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The Dirty Dozen11 NAS blends sub £20 v Aldi Highland Black

 
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lincoln imp
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 2:10 pm    Post subject: The Dirty Dozen11 NAS blends sub £20 v Aldi Highland Black Reply with quote

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 whisky, as I have heard decent comments about the Aldi whisky 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.

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.
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 whisky 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 whisky 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 whisky will not interest you.

Finally, there is definitely a place for Scotch whisky blends or Irish Whiskey and as prices for daily drinkers increase, whisky like this may come into focus with some people more and more.

All the whiskies are 2021 versions, what you can buy now

Notes below in the order i tried them

Scores in order of Nose/Palate/Finish

1st - Highland Black Distiller’s Reserve 8 year 40% Aldi 83/85/85
2nd - Grant’s Family Reserve 40% 82/84/85
3rd-The Famous Grouse 40% (mini) 84/84/83
4th- High Commissioner 40% 82/82/84
5th-Bell’s Original 40 82/83/83
6th- Scottish Leader 40% 80/83/83
7th - JW Red Label 40% 82/83/82
8th- Teacher’s Highland Cream 40% 82/80/81
9th -Jameson triple distilled 40% OB 2021 73/77/80
10th- Black Bottle 40% 78/76/75
11th- Bushmills Original White label 40% OB 70/72/70
12th- Dewar’s White Label 40% 63/67/60


The tasting notes were not too long as there were so many to taste and when doing the Teachers Highland Cream, my laptop dropped its signal so I lost the notes.


1 – Jameson triple distilled 40% OB 2021

Light, zesty full of white fruits on the nose with a dollop of fresh cream.
The palate is full of cream and again white fruits of mainly apple and little unripe pear with a few spices and a a hint of vanilla.
The finish is the best part, remaining sweet, quite crisp and zesty.
This was better than I was expecting and the first of 12 in a H2H for blends under £20.
Perfectly acceptable as an aperitif, decent buy for the money.
73/77/80 – 77

2 – Bushmills Original White label 40% OB

Very different from the smooth Jameson on the nose, this has a harder edge to it, almost gritty from the grain component, it has a slight almost turpentine smell which is something I used to find in the 10 year Bushmills single malt.
White fruits of mainly green apple, with vanilla, hints of coconut milk and biscuit.
The palate is creamy at first but it also has little balance and quite harsh at first.
As you go on, there are some nice fruit gum flavours (white & yellow) and some white pepper with a hint of peat.
Finish is ok but like the palate a little harsh from the grain.
Not as good as the Jameson
70/72/70 – 71

3 – JW Red Label 40%

82/83/82 82 – same as notes yesterday when compared to 1970 version
Score still the same


4 – Dewar’s White Label 40% -

The nose is really light, it is almost absent, so i put a lid on the glass and left it for couple of minutes.
Better now at first but after 5 seconds the aromas are almost gone again apart from a little green apple.
The palate is similar to the red label just less of everything and not as well integrated and the grain element is very much to the fore adding some grittiness.
The plate is creamy but slightly tart like what you get from Granny Smith's apples.
The finish is a bit watery and on sour apples. Not great, I wouldn`t buy a bottle
63/67/60 – 64

5 – Scottish Leader 40%

This is a first for me, never tried Scottish Leader before.

The nose is on the creamy side and also quite vegetal, smells more industrial than the others, white fruits with a little turps.
On the palate we have have masses of cream with white pepper which reminds me a little of old White Horse bottlings.
This is quite a spicy one, quite lively, green apples, white pepper , biscuits m cream and a cream soda note.
I like the finish, it seems to gain in intensity and i would say is a little more substantial than the average blend, including the 12 blends in this flight.

80/83/83 – 82

6 – Bell’s Original 40%


The nose is quite nice, plenty going on, a big caramel note, mixing with cream, ginger spice and crunchy nut cornflakes, so we are off to a good start.
The palate is creamy, with some sweet peat, white pepper, caramel , cold tea ( bit in a good way.
The finish is also pretty good, quite sweet with the spice and a little peat keeping you interested.

82/83/83 – 83

7 – High Commissioner 40%

Another first for me in tonight's H2H.
This has a ginger spice note at first, with a big cream note, hints of green plum and gooseberry.
The palate is more robust than I was expecting, plenty of spice, a little peat, biscuit, cream, a little pepper, hint of menthol and something like a weak cough syrup?
The finish is also decent, with more fruit coming through and there is a kick of spice at the finish.
The finish is the best part
82/82/84 – 83

8 – Grant’s Family Reserve 40%

The nose on this is quite different to the 7 blends that preceded this one.
There is quite a lot going on, breakfast marmalade, toasted brown bread, a slight nutty aroma, a little olive oil, very faint fresh pineapple and rice pudding, now that is something different.
The flavours on the nose come through on the palate but there is more fruit on show and then a little cream, ginger cake, spice and a little sticky toffee note.
There are no real issues with this one, nothing wrong with it for the price.

82/84/84 – 83

9 – The Famous Grouse 40% miniature

A little ginger, a little peat, a slight brown vinegar note, vanilla, ginger pudding, and those little brown Biscoff
biscuits cafe's give you with a cup of coffee
The palate is quite spicy, with a little peat, more ginger pudding, hint of vanilla, hints of cold coffee but what I like about this is the spice note.
The finish is decent remaining sweet on caramel biscuits and spicy.
For the money this is nice stuff

84/84/83 – 83

10 – Teacher’s Highland Cream 40% -

82/80/81 – 81

Unfortunately my internet went down just as I was uploading a tasting note.
This is ok and the peat is there with plenty of other flavours but the sum of the parts was a bit disappointing for me.
On the nose and palate there are notes similar to Caol Ila or peated Ardmore, that I can remember.

11 - Black Bottle 40% miniature –

The nose is a little distant at first but there is a definite smoke note,, sweet peaty smoke, mixed with a little cough syrup but not much else is on show.
The palate is all on sweet peat , brine mixed with brown toast, thick cut breakfast marmalade.
There is a nice spice note but this is almost too sweet considering what the whisky is, this is ok but it is almost too tame

78/76/75 – 76

12 – Highland Black Distiller’s Reserve 8 year 40% Aldi , new label

On the nose there is a little peat, smoke, faint green fruits, hints of ginger, gooseberry and green plum.
The palate has decent balance, with a little pepper, peat, something quite dry, like dried beef but not overpowering flavour wise, that is it beef gravy granules, but like you are smelling them from some distance away?
There is some good balance on show here, with some caramel mixing with the pepper.
The finish is reasonable, remaining a little sweet, with a little green apple skin coming through.
I think it is the balance where this picks up marks.

83/85/85 points all round
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Last edited by lincoln imp on Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ralfy legend
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post Lincoln,, the Aldi highland black is a little gem in my view, many people just don’t give it a chance, I’ve had many a good night on it, don’t know if it’s me but I’ve found some bottles seem very grainy with the others with less but more fruit,
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lincoln imp
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ralfy legend wrote:
Nice post Lincoln,, the Aldi highland black is a little gem in my view, many people just don’t give it a chance, I’ve had many a good night on it, don’t know if it’s me but I’ve found some bottles seem very grainy with the others with less but more fruit,


Thanks, appreciated,, I am trying this again right now, and yes i can taste the grain but this Highland Black is far from a rough cheap whisky, I like it and what is better than finding a decent quality daily sipper for only £13 Smile
I have just purchased a Glenturret 12 year and this Aldi whisky is better than that one.
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ralfy legend
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve been in Aldi and see on a regular basis the old blokes pick a grouse or a bells and I’m behind them with my highland black, I smile when they look and if they open up a conversation I always ask if they have ever tried the highland black with there response alway no, I reply mine is so much better .
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an excellent post Lincoln again. I also appreciated that H2H that you did with the Red Label. I would never have thought to have tried them - I did it once with an old Chivas Regal 12 30-40 years apart and the difference was incredible. I also tried an old dewars white label 20 odd years apart and again the difference was night and day.

I have not had the Highland 8 for years but in the years gone by when the kids were younger and I had little money I always appreciated this as a decent daily sipper.

I’ve also had a couple of outstanding bottles of Naked Grouse in the last 5 years which really blew me away at the £20 mark - although I have also had a couple of average ones too, so they can be hit and miss.

Finally- not found in the UK I’ve had a Black Dog 12 which I quite enjoyed.
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lincoln imp
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheWM wrote:
This is an excellent post Lincoln again. I also appreciated that H2H that you did with the Red Label. I would never have thought to have tried them - I did it once with an old Chivas Regal 12 30-40 years apart and the difference was incredible. I also tried an old dewars white label 20 odd years apart and again the difference was night and day.

I have not had the Highland 8 for years but in the years gone by when the kids were younger and I had little money I always appreciated this as a decent daily sipper.

I’ve also had a couple of outstanding bottles of Naked Grouse in the last 5 years which really blew me away at the £20 mark - although I have also had a couple of average ones too, so they can be hit and miss.

Finally- not found in the UK I’ve had a Black Dog 12 which I quite enjoyed.


Thanks TheWM, appreciated, in retrospect and tasting again i stand by the score for the old red label but possibly I overscored the new one by a few points, not sure?
I just wanted to show that these cheaper blends still have a place and I would rather drink them than some of the over hyped stuff on offer.
As for the 12 blends, i was not surprised that the famous grouse did well, it has sound pedigree and I look at the over 6 year and over 7 year at auction and it goes for a few hundred pounds, I would love to get hold of one.
i, will do a Bushmills 70 proof black bush against a 2021 next and then another one I have been planning for some time, Highland Park 12 year over a 40 year period, to once again see how it has changed, for what it is worth the first time I tried the latest HP 12 Viking honour I thought it was awful, so against a late 70's it will be an interesting comparison Smile
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ralfy legend
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The highland park 12 has defo changed, had one last year and thought wow what’s happened to it, when I started in 2008 it was so different.
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lincoln imp
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ralfy legend wrote:
The highland park 12 has defo changed, had one last year and thought wow what’s happened to it, when I started in 2008 it was so different.


Sadly that is the case most of the time these days but I live in hope, everything the optimist.
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