A slightly better than plain jane little Single Malt from the Highlands.
Ben Bracken · 40 percent · Single Malt · Likely chill filtered · Color added · No age
I’ve been progressively taking scotch seriously for around ten years now. Watched Ralfy’s wonderful reviews for over five of those. I’ve toured some remarkable distilleries around Glasgow and the Isle of Arran and been to a few tasting events. Compared to someone like Ralfy, I feel this experience has netted me around maybe 10 to 12 percent of a true connoisseur’s ability to discern a good scotch from a bad one. Aside from tasting notes, focusing on the dram in both pure and watered form, and scrutinizing the label for those magic 41+ percent numbers, I always look out for respectable age statements, non chill filtration, and natural color. That’s about it. It is hard for me to home in on some of the finer tasting notes on the label or from other reviewers…but Im kinda getting there…md I don’t chew gum whilst tasting. So knowing that about me, I am happy to share my opinions about these various expressions.
Ben Bracken does not have any of the abovementioned qualifications on its label. It is vey much colored, pegged at 40 percent, has no age statement and almost certainly chill filtered. To make matters worse – I jumped into this bottle at the same time I was experiencing Ledaig 10 year (a Ralfy favorite), which is a superb single malt with peat perfectly balanced to allow access to its fantastic depth of spicey flavors.
Ben was given to me for my Birthday by my father-in-Law and brother-in-Law. While this is adds a bit of bias in my review – I will try to remain as objective as possible. Its not bad, but it isn’t especially good either…but, as I have noticed with many other bottles – it does get better as the bottle ages after opening.
Nose: glue, light citrus, prunes, chocolate
Taste: Tiny notes of nuts, chocolate, hint of vanilla, very little finish.
Initially, I was underwhelmed by the experience. It felt like it was pulled off a production line before it was even complete. I think this is largely to do with how fast the flavors dissipate after they hit the tongue. The initial taste is the arrival, and the finish happens with an abrupt stutter, and flattens out into a somewhat bitter aftertaste. The flavors – during their short glow – offer a few pleasant notes of that sweet highland charm that we all expect from this region – but just cant hold it quite long enough. In other words, the expression was clouded by noise and distraction. However, I received this bottle in May, and I finished it in October – and I have to say, throughout this timespan I found the bottle to become a bit smoother and settled. The sweet end became little sweeter, lasted a little longer, and the overall experience a little friendlier on the palette. It sort of hit some of the bases that scotch drinker looks for – but none of them particularly well. It is a scotch for folks who like the concept of scotch whisky, have a limited knowledge of it, and use affordability as the guiding light. It is also for folks that are out to buy a gift for a scotch drinker. Would I personally go out and purchase this? No. Would I recommend it? Not really. Would I say its not worth trying? No, not at all. It might even make a good base to mix in a better single malt with to prolong the superior bottle – but I suspect there are better choices out there for this purpose. Is it an okay scotch, further heightened as a gift from family, that was a pleasurable experience for me on that merit alone?