No, it’s not a Chinese magic spell, nor is it some forgotten city from Lord of the Rings. It’s Lidl’s latest whisky.

Abrachan is a vatted malt, 42%, made by Clydesdale Scotch Whisky, Glasgow. It’s ‘triple oak matured’, which means it’s moved between oak barrels that previously held ‘distillery rum’ bourbon, tawny port and oloroso sherry. I can’t see anything telling me how long it was aged. It’s too smooth to be only three years, but no more than eight or they’d be bragging about it.

I can definitely taste a hint of bourbon in there which feels a bit wrong for a Scotch, but it’s still very drinkable. The label has all the bollocks about how many units you can have a day, and if you stick to it you’ll take forever to finish the damn thing. This bottle must be evaporating, it’s already far lower than is legally permitted.

At £17.99, it’s pricier than their other vatted malt, Glen Orchy (£13.49), and probably not that much better. Glen Orchy is a very nice vatted malt at a price lower than most crappy grain blends. Abrachan is another good one but I’d put it level with Glen Orchy on taste. Worth a go but at nearly a fiver more, I won’t make it a regular.

In fact, a couple more quid and you get Ben Bracken in Lidl, a very nice single malt whisky. This one in the middle really doesn’t go anywhere as far as price vs. taste is concerned. Its only plus point is that it comes in a posh box so if you want a good whisky at a reasonable price for a Christmas present for a skint blogger, it does look more impressive than a wrapped bottle that is absolutely obviously a bottle.

Whisky is subjective though. There is no point taking someone else’s word for it, ever. I mean, Bell’s whisky sells enormously well and yet I’d use a gift of Bell’s to clean the toilet. To me, it’s horrible. To many others, it’s just fine.

A fellow smoky-drinker does not like heavily peated whiskies at all. Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bruaichladdich, he hates them all. Even Ledaig which is very mild by peatiness standards.  I absolutely adore the heavy peat taste. So even among the expensive ones, you need to try before you buy. Expensive does not guarantee you’ll like it and cheap does not guarantee you won’t.

Whisky doesn’t have connosieurs, like wine. Whisky has grinning maniacs with very full small glasses.

But – we know what we like.

And I quite like this new Lidl whisky. I’d still go for Glen Orchy as a standard in there but if I felt like a change, without splashing out quite as far as Ben Bracken, I’d get another Abrachan.

Even if it does sound like a Chinese children’s entertainer – ‘Hoooo… Abra… Chan! See, cheeldren, a labbit!’

You just know, when I pass the half-bottle mark, that is going to happen.


41 thoughts on “Abrachan

  1. Be extremely careful once you uncork alcoholic beverages. My understanding is that once the outside air hits the contents, spoilage begins immediately. Sure, certain know-it-alls will dispute this, but is that the sort of thing with which you want to take chances?

    Better safe than sorry, that’s my motto.


  2. I thought it was just us and our irregular whisky habit. My son was given a bottle of Bell’s and we both thought it undrinkable; absolutely foul. The peaty, smoky thing is personal; he likes the heavy malts where I much prefer the lighter ones. That’s why I’ve got an unopened bottle of Ardbeg which I was given five years ago – eat your heart out!


  3. Bells is lovely, you just have to mix it with cola or ginger, that’s all. It’s a mixing type of whisky rather than something more expensive like a single malt; sacrilegious to mix with cola. You just have to know your whiskys. Horses for courses and all that!


    • I still can’t swallow more than a mouthful of any whisky unless its mixed with ginger ale. But as an alco-purist I believe if you can’t drink it neat and in large quantities then its not the drink for you. As ever my drink of choice is Drambuie which is on offer for £16 in most places at the moment. But I accept that the sweetness of Dram will probably be very unappealing to those who prefer thier drink to taste like an Irish bonfire.


      • ” taste like an Irish bonfire.”

        That’s Poteen…with all the delicate aroma of burning bootleg diesel, ‘auld’ tyres and decomm’d Armalites drifts across the glen….maybe with a hint of Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer and peat


        • Very pleased you agree with me LI. That fizzy “ale” is foul like I say below.
          If you can get some Edradour ,(it is very rare-usually or mainly sold at the distillery or the Houses of Parliament of course) I hope you will be delighted.
          But It ain’t no Ardbeg.


          • Ahh! Ardbeg! Those were the days! It’s almost 40 f’ing quid nowadays. About 95% tax I reckon.

            As for Bell’s, if you poured it down the toilet, you’d want to clean the toilet afterwards.

            Mind you, the worst thing I ever tasted was 10 yr old Jura. Like codeine linctus, with a background tang of dog urine. Is the older stuff drinkable?


  4. I once bought a small bottle of Bell’s in a fancy whisky shop. The cashier looked displeased at my lack of taste, but once I explained the practice of soaking mouldy bagpipe chanter reeds in whisky to revive them they were happy that it was this particular brand being chosen.


  5. O/T Update On Glycerinanized Tobacco: I have now tested and retested. Spraying a solution of 35 tsps of HOT (ie boiled but cooled a little) water with 1 tsp of Glycerine onto bone dry warm leaves until they are soaking but not sodden, seems to be the way to go. Bag up the wet leaves to rehydrate fully and let the moisture permeate. Destalk and shred when still a little wetter than normal (which will unfortunately gum up the shredder a bit as the leaves are also a bit sticky until dry). Let the rather wet shredded tobacco dry spread out on newspaper, gently turning….very gently seperating…until it reaches ‘normal’ storage case.

    This consistently gives me shreds that are long enough to be ‘bouncy’, which don’t break as easy and which uncompresses after being compressed into the tubes. There is,SUBJECTIVELY, a lot less ‘shake’ or ‘fine’.

    I have tried this now with various tobacco sorts including Sweet Virgin, Red Virgin, Canadian Virgin, Burley (TL4U.me) and Polish Virgin (TL4U again) and the glycerine also seems to give a smoother smoke without any glycerine taste.


    • I was chatting with my formerly Filipino neighbor (she is quick to tell you that she is an American, now) about the tobacco that she grows. Last year she grew what she calls ‘cigarette’ tobacco and it made for some strong smoke. I can only compare them to a brand from New Orleans called Picayune, a lung-grabber indeed. This year she added cigar tobacco and has produced some hand-rolled stogies that are…distinctive…in their flavor and strength. Even though her husband is a confirmed smoker, he bridles at paying $50+ per 200 cigarettes. The old saying used to be that what this country needed was a good nickel cigar, but the arrival of a good nickel cigarette was not the same thing.

      I mention that to tell you this; every commercial cigarette that RJR used to make was a product of a blend of tobaccoes. No brand that I am aware of was a single strain of weed. You might say that while the cheese may stand alone, tobacco gets by with a little help from its friends.

      Even the fire-cured burley of Kentucky, when used alone, made for excellent chewing tobacco (or so I was told, never having felt the urge), but as smoking tobacco it was stout to the point of bare usability.

      What I am getting to is this; befriend your fellow tobacco growers, and experiment with blending your products. You might be pleasantly surprised.


      • “Even the fire-cured burley of Kentucky, when used alone… was stout to the point of bare usability.”
        Any burley, be it from Kentucky,Kentish Town or Krakau on it’s own is too strong for a cigarette IMNSHO! I made that mistake when I first started shredding leaf myself….and as I ‘grew up’ (as a smoker http://hainhausen.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/breakfast-with-baader-meinhof.html) smoking filterless, German, black tobacco/ Caporals commonly known then as ‘Lung Torpedos’ that made Capstan look mild…that is saying something.


        • I also find the burley alone to be too strong. Currently I’m on a roughly 50/50 burley and virginia mix – the virginia is too mild on its own.

          So far I have not tried making pipe tobacco. That would need more pof the burley, and perhaps some Black Cavendish soaked in whisky… or brandy.


  6. I’ve visited many distilleries in Scotland and tasted their stuff and I have never known the tour guide (or if they did not have a guide then one of the chaps working there) to fail to put a splash of spring water in their dram.or offer it to me. Many years ago I was told at the Scotch malt whisky society in Leith that it did something desirable to the esters. Then it got complicated and my eyes glazed over. That may have been the info, the whisky or the sight of my bill.
    The only whisky I drink neat is Edradour. And not often enough unfortunately.
    Most whiskies that offend your taste buds are improved IMHO by a splash of ginger wine (not that fizzy stuff). And that’s a true whisky mac ain’t it.


  7. I intend to try a bottle and I thank you for that information.

    O/T – Huddersfield was closed this morning in a remarkable overreaction which followed a prank outside the University which involved a bag of flour. Plod immediately invoked ‘terrorist attack’ Plan A…just in case the substance was ‘anthrax powder’ and just in case it ‘germ warfare threatened all life in Yorkshire.’
    I look for the silver lining, Leggy. Plodfoolery certainly reduced road casualties this morning by bringing traffic to a standstill and thereby creating orderly queues for miles in all directions.


      • I happen to like Black Grouse, but then I’m quite fond of Laphroaig, to which it bears a superficial similarity. Over here in BC I have to wait for relatives to bring me litre bottles of duty free single malts when they visit, otherwise the cost is prohibitive.


        • XX otherwise the cost is prohibitive.XX

          Interesting point.

          Why is Rum, “exported” from Britain (Lambs Navy, OVD, Captain Morgans) at least 50% more expensive in Germany than it is in the U.K, when the “E.U” is supposed to stop all that shite?


  8. Drinking a single malt called Old Pulteney 12 yr old at the mo, very nice but even though I`ve tried quite a few malts I must admit to being a heathen and prefering a good blend.


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