Noble Rebel: Orchard Outburst, Hazelnut Harmony & Smoke Symphony


Blends and blended malts often get overlooked as inferior to their single malt counterparts. But let's not forget that the 'single malt' only sashayed into widely accessible existence in 1969 when the Glenfiddich Pure Malt was released to the world market. Before that the 'blend' was King and a lot of effort went into creating such blends for varying markets.

If the single malt market is a crowded space then the blended market is a veritable mass of bottles jostling shoulder to shoulder for market share. Due to their constituent parts, especially the use of cheaper to produce grain spirit, blends often tend to be seen as a gateway into whisky and are largely a more cost effective way to get your whisky fix.

With the cost of living ramping up substantially for us all, our funds on hand to cater to our hobbies certainly do not go as far as they once did. Age statement single malts and single pot stills that were not that long ago at the £40 mark are now hovering at or indeed have surpassed the £50 mark. This is still a threshold that I perceive as being a 'special gift' price tag for those who only dabble in whisky occasionally.   

As such value and quality are of ever more importance as peoples wallets feel ever more strain with day to day living expenses. If you've read my pieces for a while you will be familiar that I'm always keen on the value to quality ratio in my reviews, it must be the Ulster Scots in me. That quest has often led me to the supermarket shelves to look at their offerings of blends and lower priced single malts. Now I've built up a few notes on blended malts too that I thought might be valuable in your own quest for value and quality.

With a recent acquisition from Master of Malt I was sent these samples of Noble Rebel's new releases. Noble Rebel is owned by the Loch Lomond group, they of Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia distilleries fame. Their master blender is Michael Henry, a Portstewart native and all round good guy, and he has developed three blends with distinct flavour profiles that should speak for themselves - Orchard Outburst (fruity), Hazelnut Harmony (nutty) and Smoke Symphony (smoky).

Of note is their presentation though. All our 46% abv, natural colour and non-chill filtered, all the good things we whisky nuts love to see on our bottles. They all cost £40 rrp too so it would seem we have a value proposition.

The other thing to note from the presentation of the samples was that they arrived in little plastic sachets rather than the usual glass bottle. I have read other reviews who stated that this coloured the taste of all the samples for them, thankfully this wasn't the case for me.

Orchard Outburst

Unpeated and all bourbon cask-matured with some malt fermented with a chardonnay wine yeast.

Nose: As the name suggests this is pretty fruity. Apple, pear, peach. Vanilla custard, malt, cream, cinnamon and marshmallow too.

Palate: Ripe, sweet apples, tinned peach. Some milk chocolate with vanilla and a little white pepper and toasted oak.

Finish: Short, sweet and fruity.

Score: 5 out of 10

Hazelnut Harmony

Unpeated and 100% matured in bourbon casks.

Nose: Again we get orchard fruit but pear predominantly, maybe some tart green apple too. Pencil shavings, hazelnuts and a little mustiness. Golden syrup and cookie dough. Cinnamon again as well as some nutmeg.

Palate: This starts sweet - honey, barley sugar and crème pat but are followed by a bitter note. Grapefruit peel and apple sours. Walnuts and Brazil nuts plus spicy oak as well as white pepper again.

Finish: Short again but the tart citrus and spice win out leaving the finish a little unpleasant for me

Score: 4 out of 10

Smoke Symphony

A peated expression finished in Rioja red wine casks.

Nose: Sweet peat, caramel, salted peanuts. Mocha, a hint of red berry compote. Fennel sausage.

Palate: Like the nose its sweet with a gentle sweet peat character. Caramelized smoked bacon, dried dark fruit - raisins and dates. Some red berries, orange oil and a little menthol.

Palate: Short with sweet peat and brown sugar sweetness lingering

Score: 5 out of 10

Overall: Like a lot of whisky out there these are all just pretty average. Both the Orchard Outburst and the Smoke Symphony hit the brief given by their names but do it in a simple if unremarkable way. Both are perfectly fine sippers and for £40 I can live with the price tag.

The Hazelnut Harmony doesn't work as well for me being just a little to spice and oak driven and with an underlying tartness on the finish that detracts from the overall picture.

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  1. Great review mate- liking the presentation a lot- shame about the whisky!


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