Archive for the ‘Benriach’ Category

Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Benriach 1990 (27 year old?) 49.8%

Bourbon Hogshead 2640/ Dist: 1990 Btl: Jan 2018/ Tasted: Jan 2018

A mature, woody and earthy nose with dark-ish spice, coffee, straw-like barley, turmeric and a touch of butter. Although it is very woody, the spirit is not overwhelmed and shows mature, honey coated fruit.

The palate is dry and woody, but like the nose, balanced by the mature fruit, honey and vanilla. Hint of straw, apricot and barley follow, along with some wonderfully subtle, creamy vanilla. Long and mouth-wateringly citric finish.


Edition Spirits Benriach 1989(?) 26 year old 56.1%

Bourbon/ Code: EDI0120/ Dist: 1989(?) Btl: Nov 2015(?)/ Tasted: Dec 2015

Dusty and mature, malty and herbal aromas with some almost rye-like herbal spices. The malt is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Hints of balsamic berry fruit, sweet liquorice follow with an almost wheaty note. If I had nosed this blind I would have sworn it was made from some kind of multi-grain mash bill.

The palate is more classic, mature Benriach with the emphasis on the barley and dusty oak. Subtly malty with baked fruit and a touch of slightly bitter woody spice on the middle. Long, malty and dark but the citrus and peppery spice enliven the finish. Very complex and engaging with a touch vanilla oak in the after-taste.

James MacArthur Old Masters Benriach 1996 (14 year old) 54%

Bourbon Cask 43219/ Dist: 1996 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Aug 2011

Quite an oily nose with plenty of youthful cereal, grist and malt. The aromas are tinged with a sort of molasses aroma, which is quite unusual for Benriach. There is a let hint of peat which grows stronger with time, along with some manurey elements.

The palate is like the nose, oily and youthful with a peppery Tequila-esque character. It’s a bit simple and straightforward but it has a good length and an earthy finish.

A drop of water brings out the typicity off the nose. Very grassy and Sauvignon-esque now. Some nascent orange fruit lurks in the background as do some oak notes. Quite a change! The palate is still quite oily and a tad muted now. It is a lot less complex than the nose and there is an off putting cardboard note which clamps down on the grassy fruit, although said grassiness does put in an appearance on the finish.

James MacArthur Old Masters Benriach 1991 (22 year old) 56.4%

Bourbon Cask 110693/ Dist: 1991 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: Dec 2014

A beautiful mature and fruity nose. The fruit displays that wonderful aged tropical character – greengage, apricot, pineapple, kumquat and melon, along with lashing of sumptuous, lightly coffee accented honey deftly interwoven with muscavado sugar and a touch of sawdusty oak. Wow, that’s serious big and expressive!

Soft, gentle barley flecked warm honey to begin with on the palate along with a touch of oak. The tropical fruit sits beneath the oak and honey and just about pops its head through. Luscious and extremely juicy with the alcohol adding a lovely nip. Lightly mentholated finish with a wisp of smoke and camphor. The alcohol adds a drying element to the finish but a mouth-watering element too. The honey just about counters that dryness and some gentle herbal coffee’d notes come through at the end. A superb, mature whisky.

Hart Brothers Benraich 1968 (34 year old) 49.8%

Cask 2591/ Dist: Nov 1968 Btl: May 2003/ Tasted: July 2005

Stunning nose, dense and full with hints of fruit cake, stewed fruit – figs, raisins and sultanas, finally developing intense aromas of church candles/ incense and sandalwood. On the palate it is extremely complex, rich and full of decadent, cognac-esque, rich spiced fruitcake. An extremely chewy malt

Duncan Taylor NC2 Benriach 1996 (12 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask/ Tasted: July ’09

Deep, rich and earthy nose with honey and a touch of coffee. Good maturity with a perfumed white flower note, citrus fruit, apricot, and fleshy melon, backed up with lovely vanilla oak.

Soft, honeyed and juicy on the palate. Straightforward with late developing toffee, caramel and spices. The oak kicks in quiet quickly and the alcohol is a bit intrusive. Good length with loads of toffee’d oak and gentle spices.

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Benriach 1996 (15 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Dist: Mar 1996 Btl: May 2011/ Tasted: May 2011

A robust and pungent nose reminiscent of old onion skins and balsamic vinegar. There are hints of dark fruit and malt but the balsamic character is dominant and although not altogether unpleasant it is unusual. Quite gristy with some sweet fudgy moments.

The palate is soft and lightly peated, followed by the old onion skins and balsamic laced fruit. Like the nose it is pretty robust with some old grass and a big spice hit on the middle. Good length with the toasty oak coming through along with some tart citrus which does dry out the finish. An interesting dram and certainly not what you would have expected from a Benriach.

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Benriach 1990 (21 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2147/ Dist: Feb 1990 Btl: Feb 2012/ Tasted: Feb 2012

It’s quite hard to get a grip on this nose. There’s some lightly burnt caramel and burnt heather notes, which to be fair do dissipate quite quickly to leave some grassy citrus and light honeyed barley. Over subtle?

The palate opens with a touch of manure along with some honey and wood notes. A bit indistinct with lightly, sweetened honeyed fruit and a touch of spice. Reasonable length, finishing with some citrus and mature oak which bitters towards the end.

Douglas Laing Provenance Benriach 2010 (6 year old) 46%

Refill Bourbon Hogshead/ Code: PRV1325/ DL12061

Dist: Dec 2010 Btl: Aug 2017/ Tasted: Sept 2017

A slightly ascetic nose with burnt caramel notes. There are hints of citrus and white fruit beneath the murk, but it’s definitely not what you would call a pleasant nose!

The palate pretty much mirrors the nose – ascetic and cardboardy with buried white fruit and citrus. Short, sweet vanilla and grass finish but that doesn’t save the day I’m afraid.

Dewar Rattray Benraich 1989 (15 year old) 59.9%

Bourbon Cask 50062/ Dist: Oct 1989 Btl: Nov 2004/ Tasted: Dec 2005

Clean, fresh and youthful aromas of perfumed, spicy orange fruit and dusky spices arise from the glass. This whisky is quite light but has a superb depth with earthy nuances. It has a deft balance of dry-sweet aromas and liquefied orange fruit.

Med-dry on the palate with a rich entry of cereal and malt. Deep and viscous, loaded with naturally sweet citrus fruits, honey and spices, which build nicely. Soft yet tangy alcohol and an intensely spicy middle. Superb length with a drying finish.

Water bring out a touch of oak on the nose but doesn’t really add much to the already complex palate, thus ideally it should be drunk neat.

Dewar Rattray Benriach 1990 (16 year old) 53.3%

Bourbon Cask 10699/ Dist: 1990 Btl 2006/ Tasted: Oct 2007

I loved their earlier bottling of Benriach at 15 years old and thought this would have to go some to top it and boy does it just. This bottling is heavier and oilier on the nose with a sumptuousarray of waxy citrus fruit, a lovely complexity with some dunnage floors, a touch of orange blossom and a light sprinkling of peat.

The palate is much like the nose, oily and subtly mouth filling. Creamy yellow fruits meld with the oak and there is a delightful grassy middle. When a touch of water is added the nose gets even better. The orange fruits have taken on a yummy liquid honey veener with no shortage of wonderful malty notes. It really pulls the palate together, now slightly less oily but the wonderful soft citrus fruits bounces over the tongue and the grassy notes return on the finish.

Dewar Rattray Benriach 1990 (17 year old) 61.6%

Bourbon cask 1779/ Dist: 1990 Btl 2007/ Tasted: Apr 2008

Quiet subtle, with a greater degree of grassy character than previous bottlings. The high alcohol content prickles somewhat but there’s a lovely depth of orange and apricot fruit with hints of mature honey. The grassy notes continue to build as intimations of flowers an vanilla appear.

The palate is oily, quiet rich and honeyed with an earth shade to the fruit. The alcohol is rampant though.

A drop of water softens and allows the silky honey and wonderfully juicy orange crystalised fruit to shine on the tongue. There is a hint of malt and barley swirling amid the grassy character. Even with water it is still edgy and grippy with a dry finish. A lovely aperitif whisky.

Dewar Rattray Benriach 1991 (19 year old) 46%– sample at cask strength

Bourbon Cask 110682/ Dist: 1991 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Nov 2010

Quite a high toned and grassy with some lovely crystalised citrus fruit. With time it becomes quite floral (white flowers) with barley, light, mature honey and a touch of vanilla oak.

The palate is soft and fuller than the nose suggests with plenty of barley and honey to start with followed by an intense burst of alcohol and finishing with the American oak, grass and citrus fruit to finish.

With water (an approximation of what it will be like at 46%) it seems a lot younger and decidedly less complex. More of the distillery character (citrus and grass) is apparent but the lovely honey has disappeared. The palate is oiler and a tad confected now with a flavour that veers between an agricole rum and a marc. If this had been bottled at its natural cask strength then fine but at 46% I’m not quite so keen.

Dewar Rattray Benriach 1991 (20 year old) 54.9%

Bourbon Cask 110683/ Dist: 1991 Btl: Feb 2012/ Tasted: Feb 2012

Aromas of manure and dried straw. Quite earthy with dark treacle-malt and liquorice. With time it develops and aromatic manurey note. However intermingled is a fizzy, vinegary, slightly cardboardy note. One feels that age has caught up with the spirit. 

Soft and quite malty on the palate with plenty of treacle coated fruit, mature oak and drying tannins, add in the alcohol and it is very drying. Slightly murky on the middle with hints of floral old marc and pepper. Again there is that slightly perfumed manure note and a touch of old coffee. It’s definitely old but thankfully doesn’t have the asetic quality of the nose. 

With water the nose becomes dusty/ musty and old with the spirit creaking even more. On the palate it is watery and sugary. It has to be said that there are some pleasant peppery old marc notes with a rose water and heather finish. The after taste is still sugary though.

Cadenheads Authentic Collection Benriach-Glenlivet 1986 (23 year old) 53.3%

Bourbon Cask/ Dist: 1986 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: July 2009

A lovely deep and crisp nose of honeyed citrus, earth, dried raisins and sultanas, figs, light coffee-spice and vanilla oak. Gorgeous! Gets creamier over time and develops a floral note. Water emphasises the lovely orange fruit, wood notes a touch of burnt toast emerges along with a meaty/ bacon-like note.

The palate is soft and fruity with lashing of apricot, banana, citrus fruit and vanilla. Quiet an earthy middle with a hint of tannin and restrained alcohol. Water makes it wonderfully soft and fruity emphasising the light citrus oils. Long with grass and Sauvignon blanc white fruits and herbs. In conclusion – Superb. The palate could have done with a bit more complexity, but that’s a minor quibble!

Bladnoch Forum Benriach 1985 (23 year old) 49.7%

Bourbon Hogshead 66438/ Dist: Sept 1985 Btl: Aug 2009/ Tasted: Sept 2009

Light, elegant and mature aromas of crystalised fruit, coffee, grassy-herbs and American oak exude from the glass. Very deep and with a wonderful purity. Give it some time and it becomes almost ethereal – Juicy orange fruit is joined by a brittle/ granity honey note. Heavenly!

The palate is soft and mouth filling. Brittle honey and granity hard fruit mingles with some Sauvignon blanc-esque grass and citrus. The alcohol peaks quickly and reveals a superb complexity of flavours – grass, heather, white flowers, fauna, subtle oak and a touch of white chocolate. Oh and not forgetting the gentle, gorgeous fruit, which resides in the background. Superb length.

In all honesty it doesn’t require any water, even if it does emphasise the gorgeous honey on the nose because it dampens the fun of the palate somewhat.

Berry Bros Benriach 1996 (12 year old) 46%

Bourbon Casks 43217/8 Dist: 1996 Btl: 2008/ Tasted: Oct 2008

Brash, butch an oily. Thereare all sorts of heavy oils firing off here! Amidst the carnage there’s some cereal, fish oil, orange fruit, earth, a touch of peat, honey, vanilla and violets. It starts to get a bit bent out of shape and soapy after a while and the aromas are now reminiscent of shaving foam!

The palate is like the nose. Oily, cerealy and seems a lot younger. Its way too oily and foreshorty, leaving the palate quiet flat. There’s some late honey and floral notes, but the finish is a bit hot. I can only assume that the cut was probably taken a bit too soon.