|Bell's, Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland) |
Bell's 8-year-old is the best-selling Scotch whisky blend in the UK market, and has benefited enormously from the decision a few years ago to alter the recipe so that it could carry an eight-year-old age statement. This has allowed it to compete more effectively in terms of quality with its chief rival Famous Grouse, which still outsells Bell’s in Scotland. The ‘heart malt’ of Bell’s is Blair Athol, distilled in Pitlochry, Perthshire.
Quite light, with caramel and grain on the nose, but the body is robust, with a full-flavoured malty palate and a pleasing late finish of oak, toffee, and a hint of liquorice. A very decent dram these days.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £13.00, widely available.
|Bell's, Original (Scotland) |
Britain’s leading blended Scotch whisky underwent a major makeover earlier this year, with the existing 8-year-old age statement being dropped. Owners Diageo claim the revamped recipe was closer to that originally formulated by founder Arthur Bell, though the cynics amongst us may consider that the change could also have something to do with the increasingly precious nature of aged whiskies in international markets!
The 8-year-old age statement was introduced by Diageo’s forerunners United Distillers in a successful attempt to rehabilitate the blend, which had become known for its perceived harshness during the 1970s, when the enthusiasm and success of Arthur Bell & Co Ltd’s sales and marketing teams outstripped whisky supplies, and the firm’s distilleries produced spirit which was made with great rapidity and only a perfunctory concern for quality.
The nose of Original is appreciably more youthful than that of its predecessor, offering cereal, yeast and slightly ‘mashy’ notes, with a floral background and fresh fruits. The addition of water produces a distinct impression of spent matches. Smooth, malty, nutty on the palate, eminently drinkable, though lacking some of the ‘presence’ of the previous 8-year-old. The finish is fairly short, with lingering fruit, spice, a hint of peat and liquorice, especially when water is added.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £11.95, widely available.