Monday, 16 March 2015

Aldi vs Lidl pt 2: Glen Orrin 5 year old blended malt

This week the battle of the budget supermarkets continues with a look at Aldi’s 5 year old blended malt, Glen Orrin. It comes in a standard unremarkable bottle, with little information concerning origin or composition and a label that looks like it might have been designed by one of the teams from The Apprentice, but it is definitely bottled for Aldi at 40% ABV. And it’s only £13.29, so what do you get for your money?

Well, on first impression, there’s lots going on. It’s pleasingly sweet with a nice hint of peat on the nose. In fact, I’m not too proud to say I was mightily impressed – not all the notes are perfect, but it was surprisingly good for the price, and I was even moved to Whatsapp my mate Phil about my first impressions. He even went out and bought his own, and shared my opinion, calling it a find.

But then something weird happened, and each time I revisited it, I seemed to enjoy it less and less, until finally I was left wondering what had seemed so impressive about it in the first place. And I can’t answer that. There must have been something impressive about it, something different and intriguing… but now it’s gone.

All my experience so far has suggested whisky should open up -  for several months - after pouring that first glass, but here was something to challenge that supposition. This could be an anomaly among whiskies, and you can be sure I’ll keep you updated as I draw further conclusions, but as for the Glen Orrin 5, I’m afraid it means I can’t score it very highly: 5/10.

And that brings Aldi’s average score over all spirits and liqueurs I’ve tried to 6.25 out of 10. You can check the first instalment of this contest here.

Lidl, this battle’s other competitor (currently sitting on a poor -2 out of 10), do their own vatted malt that is ripe for comparison with this. Phil was actually motivated to pick that one up, and suggested it is better than the Glen Orrin, so I’ll have to follow suit at some point to find out who is the real king of cheap vatted malts… out of Aldi and Lidl. So much to do, so little time…

Anyways, that's all I got for this week. Sorry to've kept you waiting and that. I'll try to be more prompt next week.


  1. I was thinking of purchasing a bottle of this after being impressed with Aldi's Highland Black.

    My own experience of blended malt (I've always preferred the term vatted malt) is limited to Monkey Shoulder, I bought a bottle from Asda for £26 a month ago, and have been enjoying it as a sort of guilt free scotch for occasions when I don't want to taste the grain edge in a blend* or open a pricier bottle of single malt.

    One blended malt high on my whisky bucket list is Johnnie Walker Green Label, sadly this appears to have been discontinued (although some websites suggest that it is still available in the far east, Taiwan here I come).

    Aside from these, the only other blended malt I've seen is Sheep Dip. I may still get the Glen Orrin as a comparison with Monkey Shoulder, especially at that price, only time will tell.

    *this is when it gets confusing, talking about blended whisky and blended malt in the same sentence.

  2. Thanks David. Yes, I began my journey with the Highland Black, but it's been a long time since I last tried it. I'll definitely be giving it another go one of these days. I think my next purchase though will be a blend from the next price category up.

    You're right about blended whisky and blended malt getting confusing; I would say it's acceptable to call blended whisky a "blend", but if you want to talk about blended malt, you have to specify.

    If you are looking for other vatted malts, I know Cutty Sark do one, but it didn't strike me as particularly good when I tried it. Then, if you're feeling particularly flush one month, you could go for one of the NIkka Pure Malt expressions. The white label (as you can see on an earlier post on this site), is quite superb - finishing just short of being one of my spirits of the year.

    See you next time hopefully.