Arthur Bell established a grocery store in 1825 (this year is found on all Bell’s bottles) and began to make blends on different malt whiskies in 1851. First whisky Extra Special was registered in 1895 and ten years later there was added Bell’s name on it. After the prohibition which created a great boom, Arthur Bell bought three different distilleries, the biggest was Blair Athol. The malt whisky from this distillery is still the body of Bell’s whiskeys, also Glenkinchie, Dufftown, Caol Ila and tens of other distilleries give their own aromas.
Bell’s Original was created just in 2008. Due to its owner, it is now closer to the original whisky, which was created over 100 years ago. There is lots of critics on the internet, which says the original was much better than the new one. Which has become a very typical habit these days, when the big labels reorganize their brands. Old Extra Special is still on sale, but only in the UK market. On every bottle of Bell’s whisky is written a slogan “Afore ye go” (Before we go) which means that there is always a time for a dram before leaving. Bell’s Original has been the most sold blended Scotch in the UK until 1978. Worldwide it is also on top10. It is produced by Arthur Bell and Sons and owned by Diageo, which bought it from Guinness in 1997. A 70 cl bottle was bought from Maxima at 9.90€.
Bell’s can be very popular in the UK, but for sure not of it’s taste, more for the very low price. Nose is actually quite pleasant, there are some grassy, floral notes, bit fruits and smoke, slight honey sweetness. Taste however is not worth the smell. It is very sweet at the beginning, but until there is a subtle smoke and sweet graininess, nothing else is happening. Smokiness is more like cigarette ash like, stubborn, not any pleasant peaty like.
The smoke aroma is somehow in the wrong place, this could be better without it. Would give more room to floral and fruity notes, which can be found on the nose. The taste is also quite harsh, not like a masculine rough, but more like pungent ethanol which comes from the high grain whisky content. The grain ethanol part should be quite remarkable, which has brang so much sweetness and pungent wheat aroma. There is a certain oak taste also, but it’s tannic aroma, which comes from the many times reused barrels.
The worst from the Bell’s is the aftertaste, it is bitter and pungent, and stays a long time in the mouth. It is the aftertaste which I would love to cut off fast with drinking at least water or snacking something salty. Bell’s is not a pleasant whisky, I neither liked it on the rocks. So it suited only for long mixed drinks. For them Bell’s brings the subtle smoky savour.