Supermarket Whisky Overview

When Jim Murray awarded Sainsbury’s 8 year old Dún Léire Irish Single Malt of the Year in 2011 there were more than a few surprised faces both in Ireland and elsewhere. The Dún Léire was in all but name an 8 year old Tyrconnell produced by Cooley Distillery (located on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth) given an updated supermarket label. Described by Jim Murray as “Cooley at its best” and “brilliant and relatively undiscovered between 7 and 9 years”. In case that’s not enough to win you round consider Lidl own brand Maxwell Single Malt Scotch whisky which is now all but impossible to find. Unfortunately while those particular bottles has been discontinued and your chances of trying it are fairly limited, they do raise the question if a supermarket branded whisky can mask “a very astute and masterful piece of whiskey buying” should you really turn your nose up at an own-brand label? As Martin Isark founder of Can I Eat It explains “Often as not you’ll be drinking a dram that’s really a brand”, unfortunately supermarkets cannot name the distillery which produced the malt on the label. Consequently you are playing something of a lottery, you might be walking away with a superb bottle at a fraction of the cost, at worst you’ve splashed out heavily for a cocktail whisky.