Archive for the ‘Benriach’ Category

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.

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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.

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.

Benriach Peated New Make ?abv

Tasted: Feb 2015

Initially the aromas are very sweet, creally and creamy with an almost vanilla-like note. Then, the stinky, manurey peat arrives along with a alight ‘off the still’ oiliness. Hints of tar, heather and decomposing straw follow. Very complex new make.

The palate is dry and more oily with ‘off the still’ notes, barley and grass. The peat comes through on the finish with the tarry, earthy notes. Finally a touch of sweet barley and spice returns.

Water doesn’t make much difference to the nose, possibly making it a little less oily and a little fresher but also a tad soapy. Whilst on the palate it emphasises the creaminess of the spirit and brings forward the barley and the sweetness. The peat is less intense and it’s a little soapy on the finish.

Benriach Peated Cask Strength 56%

Batch 1/ Tasted: Jun 2017

Sweet-ish and gristy aromas with barley, digestive biscuit and nascent honey.. A lovely waft of soft heathery peat and a touch of spice. Neat it’s a little tight with just a touch of toffee’d oak and herbs.

The palate is oily and slightly tarry with again gristy barley, subtle apricot fruit and gentle peat and spice notes. The oak is pretty subtle too, just adding a smidgen of toffee. Lovely intense, alcoholic finish with hints of heather, soot and menthol.

With water the rich Benriach character is more noticeable and the peat has become an earthy echo. Robust and full now with wood embers, heather and creamy American oak. The palate is again, softer and like the nose displays the rich Benriach character. Lightly sooty and earthy peat and a long, fresh, almost citric finish with lingering heather, peat dust and herbs.

Benriach 12 year old 43%

Bourbon

A soft, slightly crisp nose with barley, citrus, white pepper and a touch of vanilla oak. Ever so slightly soapy with some grassy notes. The palate is soft and slightly perfumed. Pretty straightforward stuff, slightly honeyed with barley and yellow fruits. A pleasant length with a slightly confected, spicy finish along with hints of high toned marc spirit.

Benriach 12 year old 40%

Tasted: May 2013

An insipid and slightly musty nose with unclean sherry, boiled sweets, muted apricot and sickly sweet fly spray notes.

The palate is watery, opening with a metallic note followed by some grubby dried fruit and cardboard. There is a semblance of sweet barley on the middle but it’s fighting a lost cause here! A brief creamy oak note appears and it finished with some fly spray bitterness. A very poor bottling.

Benriach 1999 (13 year old) ‘Virgin Oak Finish’ 46%

Tasted: Mar 2014

A robust bourbony nose. Dense and earthy but with plenty of sweet vanilla. Lightly spiced with coffee and chocolate. The oak becomes wonderfully creamy with a crème caramel character developing. Hints of herbal barley freshens and a light smoky note becomes evident.

Soft and extremely succulent palate. Again quite Bourbony with gentle, sweet spices, pure vanilla pod, barley and a touch of floral honey. Mouth-filling and dangerously drinkable with a light bitter chocolate and edgy spice finish.

Benriach 15 year old ‘Pedro Ximinez Finish’ 46%

Tasted: Nov 2013

Quite sweet and voluptuous aromas. A little nutty with a huge herbal sweetness, followed by treacle and molasses. However it is not all sherry as some brisk citrus attempts to penetrate the blanket of sherry. The citrus brings with it some gentle demerara sugar notes and when it finally breaks through some lovely, crumbly, sweet spices too. The sherry becomes slightly perfumed with time.

The palate is sift and nutty, with a lot less of the PX character – just hints of burnt sugar, treacle and toffee which allows the lovely, clean barley and citrus (lime especially) to show on the middle. Very spicy with pepper, malt and light smoke coming through on the finish. Very juicy with a little bitter dark chocolate but the sherry sweetness offsets it.

Benriach 15 year old ‘Tawny Port Finish’ 46%

Tasted: Dec 2013

A serious fruit overload! Dark, tawny, oxidised, dried sweet raspberry and loganberry fruit with a large dollop of syrup, plus hints straw, spice, toasty oak and a vague citrus note. Funnily enough there’s not a whole lot of distillery character here!

The palate is sweet and syrupy with dried red berries and tawny fruit. Extremely woody on the middle with loads of dusty tannins. It finishes with the red cherry fruit returning but the rampaging tannins shorten the finish. It’s all wood and port to be honest.

Benriach 16 year old 40%

Bourbon

Deeper and olier than the 12 year old with a smidgen of violety, herbal-honey and malt. There is a vague suggestion of peat with a slight astringency and building creamy, caramel oak.  The palate is slightly oily and a bit subdued to be honest. It really lacks some oomph! A slightly peated, sugar water middle. Good length with the oak bittering out the finish.

Benriach 16 year old 40%

Re-Tasted: Nov 2013

The nose opens with some sweet-ish, herbal barley plus oodles of white fruit, honey and crème caramel. A lovely, rich nose with the barley becoming silky sweet. Full and voluptuous with the oak maybe beginning to dominate a little to much, however some edgy citrus arrives to balance. Very much improved since I last tasted it!

The palate is full and soft with plenty of oily, caramel oak and hints of perfumed white fruit and sweet-ish barley. Good length with some wood spices arriving along with some palate cleansing citrus on the finish.

Benriach 16 year old 43%

Tasted: Feb 2015

Nose: Generous and herbal with plenty of honey and gin-like botanicals. Very bourbony and toasty with what appears to be a first fill American oak character. The herbal notes become almost rye-like with time. Although there is a lot of oak it’s very well balanced.

Palate: A light, but pleasantly deep with honey, vanilla, dry spice and a touch of coal dust (which doesn’t appear on the nose). Gentle and full with the oak more subservient that it is on the nose and adds a good structure.

Finish: Good length if a little dry and austere. Lovely herbal – mint and heather after-taste.

Benriach 16 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Feb 2015

Nose: Oily, Demerara sugar coated barley and plenty of estery fruit – banana, pineapple, melon and apricot with hints of herbal honey and oak. With time the herbal intensity increases and a slight peppery spice note appears. Although it seems a little reticent to begin with it really becomes deliciously fruity.

Palate: Opens with light apricot in syrup, barley and honey. Quite weighty and full with the fruit showing a distinct fleshy character. Gorgeously smooth with the encroaching spices giving it an edge.

Finish: Long with the edgy spices coming through. A little dry on the finish but it retains a lovely intensity.

Benriach 16 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Dec 2016

A slightly coffee’d and malty nose with baked fruit, sweet barley, honey, orange and barley sugar. Pleasantly mature with late hints of milk chocolate.

The palate is soft an mature with bake apple, barley and malt. Full boiled with a touch of honey and sweet barley on the middle. Impressive intensity of flavours with hints of vanilla and coffee. Long and spicy with a lovely kick in the finish, which is helped by the higher abv. Lingering baked fruit and autumnal notes.

Benriach 21 year old Tawny Port Finish 46%

Tasted: Oct 2016

Nose: Intensely coffee’d sherry (obviously not!). Quite citric and fresh with sweet, sun dried raisin, prune and dates. It seems to have some age and with time develops a slight herbal nuance.

Palate: Fairly light in body with plenty of citrus character. Hints of dark chocolate, dried fruit, earth and coffee’d tannins follow. The spices become very gritty on the middle.

Finish: Long and remaining citric with an almost saline-like quality, but the sweet, dried fruit underpins. [tasted blind]

 


Benriach 10 year old ‘Curiositas’ 46%

Bourbon

An intense and deeply phenolic aromas overlying a lovely depth of soft barley, speyside fruit and oak. The oak delivers some lovely fudgy moments and balances the phenolic rather well.

The palate is lush, soft scoop vanilla ice cream heaven with some charming citrus and sugar sprinkles! The peat is delicate and takes it’s time to come through but it adds a lovely herbal purity to the mix. Intense and mouthwatering with the peat turning quite dusty on the finish.

Benriach 10 year old ‘Curiositas’ 40%

Tasted: Mar 2006

Very peated, youthful aromas with a faint note of fisherman’s wellies. Beneath the raw peat is a soft fruitiness, crisp and granity orange, apricot and peach remind you that you are on Speyside notIslay.

Immaculately clean on the palate, quite sweet; slightly salty arrival with oily coal/ peat smoke, crisp cereal fruit, but it is the peat, which dominates the proceedings. Lovely sweet-dry balance, very long with the oak and granity fruit coming through on the finish. Dropping the abv to 40% may have removed a little intensity but overall the quality if the same.

Benriach 10 year old ‘Curiositas’ 40%

Re-Tasted: Nov 2013

The nose opens with the dry, dusty peat along with a herbal-violet note. Quite fresh and reminiscent of an ‘un-salted’ Caol Ila. Wonderfully fresh and citric – lemon, lime, apple and a touch of gooseberry. With time some American oak vanillins appear but the delicate smoke and citrus notes hold.

The palate is a little fuller with more of the caramel oak noticeable. Quite milky with some subtle herbal-peat smoke. Less citric but it is still there. Quite oily on the middle with crisp barley and wood spice notes. Lovely length with the dusty peat and coal dust lingering along with the returning citrus which stops the oils getting out of control.

Benriach 10 year old Curiositas 40%

Re- Tasted: Feb 2015

Quite full with a good dollop of marzipan oak along with sweet braley, sugar coated liquorice, mint, earthy peat and tar. Lightly medicinal with a touch of violets appearing with time.

The palate is relatively gently peated and smoky with plenty of milky-vanilla and sweet barley. A touch of cleansing citrus arrives and leaves the dry, earthy peat and tar lingering on the finish, which has an almost salty note.

 


Benriach 17 year old Septendecium 46%

Tasted: Feb 2015

A beautiful nose of dusty, mature oak, light honey and white fruit. So far a classic maturing Speyside whisky nose. Then a gentle whiff of slightly medicinal peat appears along with some sumptuous barley, which is even slightly gristy still! Lovely sweet/ dry balance.

 

Lightly oily palate with hints of toffee amidst the dusty oak and light barley. Again some gentle earthy/ dusty peat appears along with a building medicinal note, all set against the sumptuous oak background. Stunning, peppery/ spicy fade with violets, smoke and a light oak bitterness, however the honey and barley sweetness balance superbly. Lovely, dusty, mocha after-taste.

 


Benriach Authenticus 21 year old 46%

Bourbon

A thick, butch and oily nose. Exceedingly weighty with some mature bourbon oak aromas. Very gently smoked and with a fine thread of peat. With time some lovely Glenrothes-esque mature honey appears as does a slight perfumed white flower top note.

The palate is as weighty as the nose suggests. Oily, full and sweetly malted. The oak grips early on and the peat is a distant sheen on the oils. Some sawdusty honey emerges and the phenolics are ramped up on the finish before exiting in a marvellously dusty manor. The oak continues to grip and gives it a very dry, duty, old wood finish.

Benriach 25 year old Authenticus 46%

Bourbon/ Sherry(?)

Tasted: Feb 2015

A soft and pruney nose. Very mature with a robust Cognac-esque dried fruit rancio – raisins, dates, prunes along with a touch of treacle, cinnamon, vanilla cream and sawdusty oak. Hints of liquorice, light tar and herbal peat waft through with an ethereal elegance.

The palate is full and gentle. Again pruney with treacly sherry opening proceedings. Like the nose a touch of vanilla, marzipan and sawdusty American oak follows. Gently spiced and gently peated with tar, treacle, wood smoke, cinnamon and anise. All that tarry, peat dust does make the finish a little dry but the winey dried fruit adds sweetness and balance. Superb length

 


Benriach Birnie Moss 48%

Tasted: Apr 2009

Very fishy aromas – cod liver oil and huge dollops of brine along with a veritable bucket load of pure peat and some vanilla oak. Raw! The palate is extremely young and cereally – not out of its nappy (5 years old, if that?) yet there is no fruit. It’s just raw and peaty. A light Spey with shed loads of coal dust. It really lacks the inherent fruit of say Ardbeg, which is how it can get away with bottling the ‘very young’ for example.

I’m sorry, but gobbins of peat may be a fun for ‘peat freaks’ but what I would like is more complexity or even remote sense of it come to that. Also when the 10 yearold Curiositas on the other hand, is almost perfect in that sense – why bottle this?

The answer is because it is five years since a consortium led by Billy Walker bought the distillery from Chivas Brothers and it this is the first release of new spirit. I can understand the desire to bottle your first distillate and the sense of pride it engenders but would it have hurt to have waited a few more years and release something really good?

Benriach Birnie Moss 48%

Re- Tasted: Feb 2015

The aromas are initially quite heavy on the toasted caramel and botanicals. However the lightly astringent, medicinal peat muscles its way through along with a touch of sugared barley, coal dust, tar, dusty violets and cod liver oil.

The palate is soft and milky; again plenty of oak character up first, which to be honest was what was lacking in previous bottlings. Like the nose the earthy peat, tar , liquorice and herbal/ botanical notes come through. Good length with coal tar and peat dust on the finish. A little short but pleasantly intense with the sweet barley returning in the after-taste.