Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Islay 12 year old single malt whisky

This post is a full whisky review, but it is also part of our 12 drams of xmas series (see this post for more info).

I had been wondering what to choose as the whisky I would send to 10 other whisky bloggers. I decided that I wanted to get something that was right under everyone’s noses, good value that would surprise them. I started looking at Jim Murray reviews of commonly available blends and of drams you could buy in the supermarkets, when I noticed that Sainsbury’s TTD Islay got 94 in the bible and was raved about.

That fit the bill exactly. However, I wanted to be sure it was good enough before just sending it (It would have been embarrassing to send crap whisky), and if it was bad, at least I could review it on here).

I tasted it, it ticked all the right boxes, and it was duly sent to the 12 drams tasters. Here are the dramstats:

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  • Price £20
  • ABV 40%
  • Age 12 years
  • Distillery: ?? (Somewhere on Islay)

Nose: Sweet smoke and vanilla with light fruity notes. Almost winey with malted milk biscuits.

Palate: Smokey arrival that turns sweet with vanilla and pear drops.

Finish: Custard cream, peat and aspartame (sweetener).

Verdict: Well this managed to fool everyone, though most guessed Islay and some went for a 12 year old. That, along with the fact that it really is very good, makes this a serious bargain at the price. It is not a peat monster, nor does the peat dominate, but it is there to deliver flavour, which it happens to do very well.

One question is, what’s actually in it? Well, some long searching on the internet led to rumours on whisky forums that this was actually 12 year old Lagavulin. I don’t think it is. Personally I think it’s 12 year old Caol Ila. The sweetness fits the distillery profile a little better, and Caol Ila has a very high production and has a great many indie bottling appearances. Lagavulin on the other hand has much lower production and is prized by whisky drinkers and therefore Diageo (the company that owns them). They often bring out a 12 year old Lagavulin as part of the annual special releases and it is expensive. It is not clear to me why they would also give a lot of very good 12 year old Laga stock to supermarket brands, with the high price it normally sells for and with Caol Ila down the road. Whatever it is, it’s a serious bargain. They sometimes sell it with money off!! I will be buying this again.

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2 thoughts on “Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Islay 12 year old single malt whisky

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