|Bell's Blended Scotch Whisky|
Everybody likes a bargain! Teacher's Highland Cream is one great deal. In the American whisky realm, Jim Beam Black is another.
I am always on the look-out for a low priced blend that delivers good value for my hard earned cash. With inflation and rising taxes eroding my purchasing power, I really have to have some reasonably priced spirits. But, when you are staring at the bottom shelf of the whisky section of your local purveyor of fine spirits, you certainly run the risk of buying some very terrible whiskies. So, you understand my motivation for picking up a bottle of Bell's Blended Scotch Whisky. Could it be another Teacher's or Jim Beam Black? Let's find out.
Bell's Scotch Whisky is priced the same as Teacher's, J&B and Dewar's White Label. So far, so good!
Sweet, grassy, cookie dough and some peat.
Super sweet, wheat, biscuit, sugared shortbread cookies, and a little peat. Thereafter, turns malty.
Very short. What you experience in the blink of any eye is Cool Whip, fresh out of the cannister, a couple of salt licks, hints of peat and a grand finale of unrivaled GRAININESS!!!!!!!!!!!
Simple, boring, terribly sweet! Flat tasting. Just no dimensions to this blended scotch. Would be suitable for mixed drinks, but on its own or with ice, it is just a huge dive into the sugar bowl of whiskies. Sure, economy blended scotch is not meant to be overly complex. I agree, but hey, that doesn't give the blenders carte blanche to create an extra boring whisky. I think this whisky exists in the marketplace because it appeals to the lowest common denominator of whiskies, namely smooth, super sweet, no playful bite and virtually no evolution from the initial cloyingly sweet beginining to the Cool Whip finish. Ugh! This is the handy choice of drunks who wake under a bridge and college students looking to get loaded.
Oh, did I say this was sweet? That's all it is. It's like a mouthful of sugar cubes slowingly melting in your mouth. Not a pleasant sugar cane or honey sweetness. No! Think high-fructose corn syrup! Gumballs, dime store candies, vending machine candy. That's the sweetness Bell's Blended Scotch Whisky exhibits! Yuck!
Ever read a whisky tasting note and the critic speaks of tasting the 'grains' of a scotch, and you think "what the hell does grain taste like?"
As you probably know, blended whisky is made up of many grain and malt whiskies. The grain used in scotch is mainly wheat. This grain imparts a light, sweet taste and provides a narrow flavor field of sugar, vanilla and sweet toffee. If the grain whisky is young it can be harsh (tasting bitter or acidic) and lacking in much flavor because grain whisky in blends may be aged (however briefly) in poor quality casks for too short a period of time.
Grain whisky can be delightful in blended scotch, but much will hinge upon the quality of the casks. Are they first-fill ex-bourbon casks? Are casks made of American or European oak? How long are they in the casks? The quality of the wood making up the casks is just as important, if not more important than the grain making up the whisky.
Malt whisky is whisky derived from barley. Barley provides a much broader spectrum of flavors than wheat, which is probably an enormous factor in explaining the importance placed upon it. Malt whisky, especially when young, is very distinctive, and blending it with sweet grain whisky can make it more palatable. The tremendous sweetness of Bell's suggests to me that there is far too much grain whisky used and not enough malt whiskies. My theory would explain the absence of flavor in this scotch.
Returning to Bell's, when I say it is grainy, I am saying it is terribly sweet, cloyingly so. Honey sweet is nice. High-fructose corn syrup sweetness is not, unless it is the flavor quality of cough syrup you are trying to convince your 4 year old child with a fever to down.
Bell's Blended Scotch Whisky is not a bottom shelf bargain. It is a terribly sweet whisky suitable for mixed drinks at best. There are no interesting flavors to be found. You just get wicked sugar, biscuits and some oak. No sherry or great treatment of peat here. No licorice, toffee flavors either.
Don't buy it!
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