Today is particular date that I told myself I had to review a bunch of Bell's scotches that I have sitting around (more on why this particular date in the next review). I had thought I reviewed Bell's Original before on here, but I guess I didn't - in fact, it looks like no-one has reviewed any Bell's on this site ever before! I guess this is simply not a scotch that connoisseurs care much about.
Arthur Bell established Bell's in 1825, which in 1933 acquired Dufftown and Blair Athol distilleries (Blair Athol remains the signature malt of the blend, and the distillery is Bell's spiritual home). In 1936 they acquired Inchgower, and today the whole kit and caboodle is owned by Diageo. Glenkinchie and Caol Ila are also important components. Otherwise, I'm not sure what other malt and grain whiskies are part of this. This is the standard release, with no age statement, and is newly purchased and opened.
The colour is a medium amber. Nicely malty on the nose with almonds, green apple skins, butterscotch, kumquat and wisps of peat smoke and brine. Light honey. Dark chocolate. Banana. Macadamia. Ginger. Surprisingly complex. Grassy and brinier with water. Nutty, malty and a bit smoky, very pleasing.
Spicy on the palate with honey, pear drops, almond skins, herbs and a bit of peat. Cinnamon. Milk chocolate. Loads of caramel. Medium-bodied mouthfeel. A bit more heat (and a creamier mouthfeel) with water. Although it lacks the complexity of the nose, this is still quite well done.
The finish is slightly oaky with ginger, allspice and darker honey. As far as your standard Scotch blends go, this is pretty top-notch and ticks all the right boxes, with a nuttiness and smokiness that you might not expect. I'm impressed. Jim Murray scores this a 91. Let's see how it stands up to a few much rarer Bell's releases.....