Still at the Highlander Pub in Ottawa. About to make a mistake on ordering a peated whisky second, thus ending what should have been a 4-5 whisky review binge and a drunken stumble through our nation’s capital.
The Peat barrier. An often issue that no one in reviewer circles want to bring up. Why? Because we’ve all gone past it and not come back.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then I’ll take a step back. Which is hard because I’m sitting.
The Peat Barrier is when you are drinking whisky and have a peated one. A little peat and you can bounce back. An Ardbeg or an Octomore? That’s a bigger barrier. At that point you have to consider not reviewing after you have drank it. The smoke and peat will mar even the ballsiest Speyside or saltiest Islands. So you’re stuck having something more and more peaty to ensure your reviews aren’t, to use the technical term, fucked.
So there I am: Reviewing whiskies. At a pub that has a legendary amount of whisky. And I order: BenRiach 17 Septendecim.
Oh, I’m not ragging on BenRiach. Rather the opposite. If you scroll down or search the website I have, you’ll see I enjoy BenRiach quite a lot.
And what kind of BenRiach do I love the most? Well that would be peated ones.
So where’s the problem in ordering BenRiach 17 Septendecim? It’s peated! It’s on this ex-bourbon cask kick I seem to be harping on about like a harp seal.
Well it was my second dram! I thought it was part of their non-peated drams! I thought Septendecim meant ex-Flamingo dancer, not Seventeen!
Oh well. I’ll be back. I actually know that too, because this is in the past, and hindsight is 20/20.
Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Cocoa, tobacco, marzipan, canned pear, lemongrass, cooked apples
The peat here has developed over time. There’s a stronger tobacco, cocoa, and sweet and nutty aspects as well.
I’d say that the fruit aspects were trademark BenRiach. Really want to make canned pears now. Too bad the landlord told me to take down my pear tree…. what with living in a high rise and all.
Taste: Peat, cinnamon, cloves, brownie, pear crumble, malt
Big spice and chocolatey notes. The peat here is less developed than the nose, with spices and brownies rising from it, though the initial blast of rough peat throws me off a little bit.
More pears now. Really wanting those canned pears. Should have really made preserves this year.
Sorry, no real joke there. Just some regret. Uh… My dick looks like a pear? Yeah, sure, that sounds funny, let’s go with that.
Finish: Cinnamon apples, allspice/jerk chicken wings, tar, black tea
Really fast finish. Like me, on some level.
There’s your damn joke you ravenous animals.
There’s some interesting flavours here, but they speed by quickly. I want to speak to interesting notes I dissected, but.. gone too fast
Conclusion: Two things are keeping me from loving this dram above all other BenRiachs:
- A slightly rough taste
- A short finish
- No one expects the Spanish Inquisition
- My bias against tobacco
But what I’m going to say is this: Only two of these mean it needs a little bit of work. Maybe an abv of 1-2% higher. Maybe that extra year? Maybe a different cask. I don’t really know. What I do know is this would make a peat head happy, even if they were a diehard of Islay and Islay only. It’s a great evolution of the Peated BenRiachs.
My only recommendation: Don’t have it as dram number two unless you’re going to be drinking peated whisky all night.
Scotch review #484, Speyside review #144, Whisky Network review #787