Hey, I haven’t done a multi part review in awhile. Why not another BenRiach one?
I enjoy BenRiach. So much so that I recently realized, through bottle splits, bottle purchases, and in one case a sample purchase, I had 6 BenRiach whiskies sitting around, ready for a Odds and Ends review.
As such, I’ll be somewhat biased. Or maybe not.
See, what I really, really like are BenRiach that are peated. And half of the ones here are, in fact, peated. That is the explanation why I seem to have done these in a random order. Literally I did one non-peated followed (after water, meditation, and prayer to the whisky gods for clearing my tongue) a peated one.
It lead to some… odd comparisons.
None the less, welcome to a mish-mash of reviews. Let’s see how the plucky Speyside did this time.
BenRiach 19 Cadenhead’s Small Batch 1996 is up first. I’m a big Cadenheads. I’ve been to multiple of their stores in the UK (two of them), and had a blast each time. That said, no independent bottler is ever perfect, and I know that. They can have barrels they bought as part of packages.
Suffice to say, I convinced others that I hadn’t had a bad Cadenheads yet, and they split this with me. That’s on me, a little bit.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s see how I liked this one.
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Distillation Date: 1996
Bottling Date: 2015
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Soap, peach, pecan, wheat, butter, lime, pineapple
Initial nose is very soapy. If I didn’t know it, I’d say this was a Lowland given the amount of wheat, fruit, and soap.
Funny enough, the current bottle, still owned by /u/devoz, has what I thought was soap in it (I think it’s actually mouthwash but saying soap helps with my story). Makes sense to me. The green glow of it, less so.
Taste: Lemon, caramel, wheat, ginger, peanut oil
Very disjoint from the nose. It goes from a fruit filled dram to a very simple, caramel, acidic, and oddly nutty flavour. The wheat is the only thing that carries over, and that’s not really doing it favours.
Finish: Ginger, wood, dusty, pineapple, floral
Finishes with some more floral nose, which I like, but quite dusty, woody, and pineapple. It’s not sweet, and the finish wraps up pretty quickly like someone paid to wrap presents.
I’m tired, so that last joke kinda fell flat.
Conclusion: What can I say? This seems to have been the mixture of an under-active cask and greedy, angry angels. They shouldn’t have blinked.
And that happens. I think for someone who loves the nose on Lowlands, this may be higher. For me, it doesn’t quite hit a great point. I can sip on it, have everyday, but it’s not that special. Maybe next time.
BenRiach 17 Solstice 2nd Edition is something I’ve been bugged to open by a few people. Specifically /u/Rallerboy888, who has been begging me to drink it. Because he wants to be another person I let down with my consistent low scores, crazy thoughts, dick jokes (which have dried up [zing, still got it]), and whatever we call my normal straight rambling.
This whisky almost needs no introduction, what with the multiple stains on the carpet around here (that’s a dick joke). It’s the peated BenRiach, finished in a port pipe. It’s the second edition, with two years more on it.
How long was it finished in the port pipe? No idea. But it is that magical combination of port and peat that we’re al hyping up so much to only ruin it for ourselves.
Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: No longer available, however I believe it was $170 (CAD)
Colour: 10YR 8/8
Nose: Cocoa, chocolate blueberries, BBQ ribs, lemon garlic shrimp, coconut milk, peppermint
Wow. Really complex nose on this one. Doesn’t quite hit the point of setting off memories, however barring the cocoa on the nose, it doesn’t have off notes or notes that are simple.
It’s all mixtures of things making better wholes, like Zoltron or Pound Cake.
Remember when Zoltorn fought Pound Cake? Amazing episode.
Taste: Spice cake, molasses, plum, sunflower, bubblegum, oak
Less complex on the taste, however given the high bar that the nose set, that’s okay. Really interesting flavours here. The smoke and the port have mixed to give brown sugar/spices notes. Perfect for this time of year.
Finish: Sourdough, jerky, mole sauce, mint, black pepper with strawberries, nectarine, tobacco
The yeast is quite surprising on the end. And then it goes back up to a lot of complexity. Ends with some interesting heat notes, lots of meat, and red and stone fruits.
I don’t even mind the tobacco, and I’m pretty much against the note on a regular basis. But it works here.
Conclusion: This is a really, really good dram. Has an amazing nose, and a really bonkers, but great finish. I wanted a little more from the taste and it would score higher. And while it didn’t set off memories, I still think this is a great dram. Super tasty, well done.
It’s a must buy.
BenRiach 22 Cadenhead’s Rum Cask 1992 is up next. And we’re back to Cadenheads. Specifically I bought this one myself in London, after going to the Sherlock museum on Baker’s street (aka welcome to the uncanny valley).
I specifically came to Cadenheads when I read about this one. While I typically aim for BenRiach that have been peated, all I needed to read was rum cask and I was in.
I’ve had… mixed times with rum casks. But the idea still interests me. I like rum. I think rum can have flavour profiles and complexity close to a really nice single malt.
So why not take those rums and then finish a whisky in it? Have the two intermarry, like a KKK/SJW nightmare story? Sounds good to me.
Thus I bought this bottle, and have been waiting to try it. And then I did. Now I’m typing. Well now you’re reading it. You get the idea.
Let’s see how this tastes.
Price: N/A in Canada, bought it in London
Bottled: January 2015
No of Bottles: 216
Cask Types: Ex-Bourbon until October 2007, then Rum cask until the end
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Mango pie, nutmeg, Orangecicle, pears & champagne, rum cake, apricot upside-down cake
Wacky nose. Basically what I was looking for. Almost like I wrote the intro after drinking it.
Lots of tropical fruit, tonnes of vanilla, and there’s a mixture of yeast and spritiness to it. The rum element is very noticeable. Doesn’t block out the ex-bourbon parts, but works with it.
Taste: Cashew butter, ginger syrup, lemon pudding, apple brown better, carrot juice
Big nutty flavour in my mouth (too easy [like me, when I have nuts in my mouth!])
This is more of the ex-bourbon shining through, with brown sugar lent by the rum. There’s some earth here too. It’s surprising, but given BenRiach I guess I should have seen it coming. Adds a nice layer to the dram.
Finish: Limeade, wheat, radish, cinnamon tea, espresso, quince
Citrus, good amount of spice, and lots of earth. Probably my least favourite part of the whole dram. It’s trying, but oddly enough for a 22 year old dram, feels too young, or simple.
Conclusion: Like me in bed, it was a huge letdown at the end.
Love the nose. Has some real interesting complexity. And the taste was just nuts (puns!), with similar complexity and really nice bakery flavours. The BenRiach earth really pairs well with all of it.
Until the finish. While not bad in a sense, it felts like the weakest part. Probably because it was. Too simple. Something I’d expect from a younger malt. I think in the process of making an interesting dram it was a needed to sacrifice the finish. Leaving it in longer may have lead to over oaked, losing the nice balance, or anything else.
So it’s a good dram, is what I’m being a snob about. I’d recommend trying some, if you have the chance.
BenRiach 18 Latada is an OB from BenRiach, and fairly new. One of the newest releases from BenRiach, they took their peated malt and finished it in Madeira casks.
BenRiach, or rather probably their main company, looked at the success of the Laphroaig Cairdeas series. And most likely figured out they had all the potential to make something similar, albeit at a lower cask strength.
I’ve heard before that it’s best to copy your competitors. And this is a case where BenRiach seems to have done so. And added a silly latin sounded name, as is their marketing.
So let’s see how this turned out, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Anise, peat, cocoa, peanut, strawberry tart, gingerbread, Apple Jacks
Where as with previous BenRiach finishes, the finish melded with the ex-bourbon. In this case I feel like the peat and ex-bourbon are the main event, and the Madeira (which I’m assuming was the sweet kind, not the dry kind) is around the edges.
I like it, but I’m a peat head. Right now it tastes like a lightly finished peated whisky, with an apple side of things.
Taste: Peanut oil, cocoa, rubber, brine, cinnamon hearts, apple
I’m starting to think BenRiach has a peanut angle to it. The peat is prevalent here. There’s again some apple and a bit more cinnamon, but I’m not really tasting the finish too much.
Finish: Cocoa puffs, spiced apple cider, pear, anise
Nice finish. I think this is where the finish shows up, for once. Lazy fucker, that… thing? I don’t know, it’s been a long day while I write this and I need a run.
Good earth, as usual. Love the spice and apple coming together and working as one.
Conclusion: Drink this for the finish. And maybe the nose. Also if you’re a peat head.
So let’s get to brass tacks. Or even silver ones. Fuck, do pewter if you want. What I’m saying is, let’s stop dilly dallying.
This dram needed more time with the finish. As it stands it’s a nice, older peated dram. It’s kept some of the youth of the peat, so you still get some nice flavours there. The Madeira has added some apple elements, which are rare and kinda nice. It doesn’t really grow to it’s competitors levels of melding. It’s good for what it is, but I hoped for more.
BenRiach 42 1971 Single Cask (Master of Malt) is an old ass malt.
What makes this special is this malt is that BenRiach actually was mothballed for 62 years. And in 1965 they reopened. So this malt was made 6 years after reopening, which is pretty cool. Probably the closest I’ll ever have to the proto malt of BenRiach.
So.. yeah, single cask of ex-bourbon, none peated that was aged for 42 years. You know, no big deal.
Distillation Date: 01 Sep 1971
Bottling Date: 29 Nov 2013
Cask Number: 3571
Colour: 5Y 9/8
Nose: Peach juice, cloves, apple cider, violets, white cake, macadamia nuts, dandelions, lime zest
Lot and lots of peach on the nose. Takes over for a long time. Eventually have some more fruit, sweet notes, floral, and even spice. It’s an odd nose, it seems to change as I smell it. Complex.
Taste: Mint, tobacco, Perrier, melon/peach juice, peanut, lemon rind, rosemary
Very herbal. Not really complex notes here now. It’s almost like each of these individual flavours are trying to do what the nose did, but… not quite doing it.
Like the melon and peach is there, and hard to nail down but… it’s not really wowing me.
Finish: Caramel, soda water, peach skin, coconut flakes, white pepper, ginger, brine
Lots of caramel notes. Ends quite dry. Reminds me of an oaked Chardonnay in some ways. The earth elements of BenRiach are playing the main part here.
Conclusion: I think that even a un-reactive cask like this, after 4 decades, will give you something interesting. And I think this is that case.
It’s probably the weakest 40+ whisky I have had. Granted I’ve only had a handful. This is missing the complexity, the different flavours, and doesn’t play well with others. Wait, that last part was from my year long review.
It’s an interesting dram. I probably wouldn’t go hunting down a bottle. It’s an experiment. The nose was good. The rest? Kinda a let down, given the inherent hype of the age. Oh well, next time.
BenRiach Albariza 18 is similar to the Latada I reviewed above. Peated BenRiach malt that is finished in Pedro Ximenez instead of Madeira, for what I assume was a similar amount of time.
Easy intro on this one: Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 6/8
Nose: Smoked strawberry, gingerbread cookies, almond, peppermint, popcorn, gummies
This has better collusion on the nose. Again, the nose is peat forward, but the Sherry, being strong I assume, has pushed it’s way forward.
Also I want to try smoking a Strawberry Cheesecake now.
Taste: Papaya, toast, caramel, lots of coffee, cream, nutty
Good fruit on the taste. Initial blast of papaya, and that telltale toast flavour.
But holy damn there’s a lot of coffee flavour. At first it’s nice, but as I drink more it’s becomes too much. Really unbalanced.
Finish: Papaya, anise, pecan, coffee, wheat, cocoa, funk
The finish is like a carbon copy of the taste, but balanced, and with funk. So like making a country band and then playing funk music, thus not being utter crap.
Conclusion: Overall I was going to score this one higher than the Latada, and on some levels, I think it’s a little better than it. However that unbalanced taste is really hard to get over. I feel like the earth from the malt, the earth from the peat, and the earth from the Sherry just got to be too much. It needed some more nuance.
Nice sipper. Wish it was a higher Abv.
Scotch reviews #528-533, Speyside reviews #157-162, Whisky Network reviews #880-885