Sunday, February 25, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #41

Bell's Extra Special 8yo
Finest Old Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv

Week 9 of this malt mission and we are going to have a southern Highlands themed week. A cold has been going around and I hope that getting back to my morning tasting routine will weaken the hold these symptoms gained over the weekend...

On the bottle, Bell's reads "Estd 1825". Although, this is not totally accurate, Bell's whisky still has a pretty respectable pedigree. In 1840, Arthur Bell started working for Thomas Sandeman
, a wine and spirit merchant in Perth, Scotland (whose business was founded in 1825). He was an early enthusiast of the concept of blending malts even before the availability of grain whisky because of its wider appeal. When someone wrote him asking why his whisky was so good he replied, "I do not usually give the mixture of my whiskies, but may mention that the best is made in Banffshire's Glenlivet district and the other is Pitlochry and Stirlingshire whiskies." Blair Atholl in Pitlochry is currently the 'home' of Bell's whisky and still at the heart of the blend.

Bell didnt believe in using his name on the blend, and Scotch Fir was the first name given the brand in 1890s. Thirty years later the blend was called Arthur Bell and Sons Pure Malt Whisky and was the first time the name "Bell" name appeared on a bottle. Sales growth in the 1970’s saw it surpass Haig and Johnnie Walker in the UK and today, is the highest selling whisky in the country.

From what I have gathered, it contains(or has contained) Blair Athol, Balblair, Caol Ila, Dufftown, Inchgower, and Linkwood.


Light and clean grain, nuttiness, soft butter and honey, heavier malts weigh in with rich raisiny smells and some smoke. Like a good blend, it smells like whisky. No doubts.

The taste comes on slow, but offers a full package: a tightly knit combination of bread, Dairy Milk, maybe some sweet turkish coffee, burnt sugar, and definitely some smoke.


Puzzling cuz it has good, all-round flavour from sweet to peat. The problem is that it is all wrapped up in an articifial sweetness that dulls the whole impact. I suppose this effect is what makes it quite a friendly whisky, satisfying enough, but never really DOING what it tastes like it wants to do.

* - it was a right pain in the arse to find a price for Bell's in the U.S... seemed no one carried it. Americans, does the price I quote seem accurate? Suggestions?

Malt Mission #40
Malt Mission #42
Malt Mission #43
Malt Mission #44
Malt Mission #45

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Anonymous said...

I've never seen it. I'm a novice but now I'll look for it in Cupertino, Ca. I can't believe anything that old could be below 20 US. Thanks for the education. What exactly is a dram? I'll email you.

Anonymous said...

Bell's is not available in the US market.

Dr. Whisky said...

Traditionally, a 'dram' was 1/3 of a pint. Today, if you ask for "a dram of ______" it will USUALLY mean a double; at least that was my experience when I lived in edinburgh... but then I only went to the finest old man pubs, nip and a half type places. Hehe...

No Bells in Freedom Land. Thanks, paralaxe.