Tasted: Asda Extra Special Malt Whisky

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By Martin Isark
Should you put a bottle of Asda’s Extra Special Islay Single Malt Whisky in the trolley or leave it on the shelf? Read today’s Telegraph Article 

Asda Extra Special Islay Single Malt Whisky blurb reads: ‘Complex and peaty with a subtle hint sea salt and underlying vanilla and fruity notes, beautifully complemented by a smooth, lingering, smokey finish Expertly distilled with Soft Islay water and peat-smoked barley, then matured in American Casks originally used for Bourbon to achieve a rich depth of flavour ‘A perfect Islay malt sitting between the spicy, floral flavours of highland malts and the sweetness of soft Speyside malts’ For generations, our small distillery on the Hebridean Isle of Islay has been creating this very special Single Malt Whisky. Using only natural, Soft Island Spring Water, we insist on drying our barley with peat smoke – a process which imparts gloriously complex aromas and hints of flavours including earth, smoke, tar and seaweeds. Finally, this Classic Islay malt is matured in Oak Casks previously used for Bourbon in a traditional Stone-Walled Dunnage Warehouse before we bottle is straight from the wood in the time-honoured fashion to retain every ounce of character. The Result? A light, golden whisky with subtle hints of oak and sea salt, vanilla and fruit undertones and a peaty, smoky finish. Distilled in the Islay Region. Selected By J. Glass’

OK: Asda’s Islay Whisky used to be labelled ‘Pure Islay Whisky’.  The word ‘Pure’ then indicated that it was a blend of Islay malt whiskies.  Today it has changed to ‘Islay Single Malt Whisky’.  This subtle label change from ‘Pure’ to ‘Single’ means that it now comes from just one distillery.  Of course Asda can’t put the name of the distillery on the label, but, do we know which of the Islay’s 8 distilleries this malt comes from? NO – but it delivers a similar to taste profile to Islay’s Bowmore or possibly Bruichladdich. Why? Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Caol Ila typically display more pronounced peaty notes than this malt. Port Ellen is mothballed and their malts are difficult to find in sufficient quantity for a big retailer like Asda – and Bunnahabhain is almost peat free. But things could change a few weeks down the shelves!  Why? Asda could of course change to one of Islay’s other distilleries without changing the label. That’s the risk or the advantage you take when you’re buying an own brand single malt whisky. Sláinte.

The tasting note: Want a competitively priced honeyed, peaty smoky Own Brand Islay whisky that competes with the distillery brands? Asda’s Islay delivers it in single malt.

Can you drink it? Made from barley malt, but the distillery process dictates that it is suitable for people avoiding gluten.

Should you put it in the trolley? Relish the taste of honeyed smoky peaty malt whiskies? Then this is a bargain on all fronts – put as many in the trolley as you can afford.  

Still not sure which whisky to buy for your Burns Night celebrations and beyond? Get the Can I Eat It? app and scan thousands of Scottish drams.

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Not forgetting:

Barcode: 3606509839744
Ardbeg Corryracken Single Islay Malt Whisky
Ardbeg malts deliver pungent peaty notes with a real salty medicinal lick. A must try if you relish the taste of smoky malt whiskies. The older the malt the more concentrated the flavours are on the palate and the finish.

Barcode: 5010496010815
Bowmore Darkest Single Islay  Malt Whisky Islay
Bowmore Darkest is a high octane, peaty and a honeyed Islay single malt whisky with a sherried lick on the swallow. If the style and price fits – put a bottle in the trolley

Barcode: 5029704111480
Bunnahabhain  12 Year Old Single Islay Malt Whisky
The Bunnahabhain house style is not peaty or  smoky like the rest of Islay’s malts, for example, Laphroaig & Ardbeg, but it’s still a well-crafted top-notch Islay whisky. Enjoy flavours of toffee, peel fruits, honey and oak? If the style, size and price fits – put a bottle in the trolley.

Barcode: 0618105701830
Bruichladdich Islay Single Malt Whisky Islay
The Bruichladdich house style is not as peaty or as smoky as an Ardbeg or Laphroaig, but it’s still a well-crafted top-notch Islay whisky. If the style, size and price fits – put a bottle in the trolley.

Barcode: 5000281021652
Caol Ila Single Islay Malt Whisky
Caol Ila is one of the benchmark brands for smoky peaty whisky. Not as assertive as an Ardbeg, but it still delivers barrels of pungent peaty flavour! If the style, size and price fits – put a bottle in the trolley

Barcode: 5000281005409
Lagavulin 16 Year Old Malt Whisky
Lagavulin is one of the benchmark brands for smoky peaty whisky. Not as assertive as Ardbeg or Laphroaig, but it still delivers a real peaty smoky sniff, sip and lick.  If the style price and size fits – Put a bottle in the trolley.

Barcode: 5010019640161
Laphroaig Quarter Cask Islay Malt Whisky
Laphroaig is one of the benchmark brands for smoky peaty whisky. This Quarter Cask Laphroaig has some of its maturation in the smaller wooden barrels to give the whisky an extra oaky lick. Don’t panic -  it still delivers barrels of pungent peaty flavour! If the style, size and price fits – put a bottle in the trolley

Barcode: 3606509469903
Port Ellen 1978 Single Islay Malt Whisky
Not as assertive as an Ardbeg, but it still delivers barrels of pungent peaty,seaweedy and peppery flavour! The older the malt the more melded the notes are on the nose, palate and the finish. Competing Brands: Bowmore, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig & Bruichladdich.

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