-> 2007 -> Tesco's Islay Single Malt


Tesco's Islay Single Malt

Picture of an unopened Tesco Islay Single Malt bottle

This one could be a contentious one. It certainly created a few column inches in the press, not sure how much it was picked up in the whisky blogs. The topic? In Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2007 a number of supermarket single malts have ‘beaten’ the established distillery brand counterparts, including one from Islay. Or have they?

In some kind of test they scored more points. My tastebuds aren't developed and/or trained enough to be able to differentiate between a whisky scoring 85 vs another scoring 89 points (out of 100). Let alone that I don't really get the point of scoring finely differentiated points for individual whiskies. Either I like a whisky or I don't. And then I like some a bit more than others, depending on my mood and the circumstances. Certainly not something I could press into a scheme of points. But the controversy goes a bit further:

Simon Dunn, whisky buyer for Tesco, said: "This will have many of the big distilleries recoiling in horror as there is a lot of snobbery in the industry.

"Although this will undoubtedly prove a shock to the drinks industry, it'll come as no surprise to our customers, who have known about the quality of our own-label single malts since we launched them last April."

as the Scotsman reports. Similar in the Daily Record

Why this should be a shock to the drinks industry I don't fully understand. There are only a handful of distilleries on Islay I believe to be able to supply the whisky for Tesco. That the whisky then tastes as good as the established brand can't come as a surprise, for the simple reason that it is the same stuff. Who knows, may be it's even Bowmore supplying Tesco?

Yet there is a difference, I believe a very important one. Simon Dunn might call it snobbery, I call it spirit and feeling. I've tried the Tesco Islay Malt, tastes nice enough. But something is missing. It doesn't really have a home. I can't really get a warm feeling, I can't connect to a bottle with a picture of nondescript beach which could be anywhere. When I drink one of the ‘real’ Islay Malts I can think of the distillery where it's from. I can think of the view over the beautiful hollow by the broad bay. I can think of the view over to the Paps of Jura. It gives me something for the mind. Something a supermarket brand can't give me, try as much as they like. I guess I'm not alone in that.



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