Benrinnes SMWS 36.96 “Chocolate Cake Cookie”

Benrinnes SMWS 36.96 "Chocolate Cake Cookie".jpg

Looked at my upcoming samples I was planning on reviewing. Came to a conclusion: I was about to review some whiskies that may lower my overall numbers, if you catch my drift.

Suffice to say, I also had a first-fill 9 year old Benrinnes that was aching for it. Granted I sound like a Catholic priest talking about a young boy who likes chocolate bars too much, but let’s imagine I’m not a pedophile for the time being and we’ll all go home non-cornholed.

I’ve slowly been figuring out what I like in whiskies. Oddly enough, age has become the thing I want to know, but not judge it. It’s like: I want to know the different ages in a blend, I have a set idea of what things should taste like, however… those won’t stop me from trying it. It’s an odd moment when I want to know something, so I can judge it, but then allow myself the freedom to go beyond those pre-determined thoughts.

I’m rambling, I know.

Take this one, for instance. Benrinnes pairs well with ex-Sherry. I know that from reviewing a handful of them. Ex-bourbon ones can develop a flavour of cardboard, there’s the typical fruit flavours, some spice, and more often than not, you wish they put it in an ex-Sherry.

It’s also young. Lots of Benrinnes develop really well over time.

So what we have here is me buying something odd. It’s young, it’s ex-bourbon. But it’s first fill. And that’s something I tend to prize highly.

Which is odd. I’ve had bad first fill casks. But I still went for this. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I wasn’t. None the less, I bought it, and this is the review. I try to keep my pre-conceived notions toned down while drinking it.

Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Price: Sold Out

Region: Speyside

Vintage: November 2006

Age: 9 years

Cask Type: 1st fill ex-bourbon

Outturn: 204

Abv: 58.1%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Thyme, perfume, caramel, almond, coconut, black forest cake, grapefruit

Big perfume. Lots of herbs… and… wow, the name sums it up.

Yeah, there’s chocolate cake. I keep arguing with myself. Do I smell that, or am I reading the label? Would I smell it if this were a mystery? However my wife, who didn’t read it, smells it. So… fuck, I don’t know.

Smells good though.

Taste: Grapefruit, brine, ginger, caramel, candied lemon peel, vanilla, brown sugar

Less sweet than the nose. More acidic than the nose. Much more. Nice brown sugar develops with time. I think this is the cookie part the name talks about.

Slight amount of spice. And brine. Didn’t expect that. It’s really a big amount of flavours.

Finish: Lemon pudding, ginger, caramel, orange scone, rosemary, pepper steak

Half of this is acidic and sweet forward, and the other half? Meat and herbal. Not something I associate together. Mostly because I didn’t hit my head enough as a child.

Trust me though, I tried.

Conclusion: Overall this is one of the better young Benrinnes I’ve had. Or better bourbon cask Benrinnes that I’ve had. Not the best both, but good. I wanted a little more from the taste (which tasted like a Salty Dog cocktail) and the finish was an odd combination.

That said, no cardboard flavour, and some nice complexity from a young dram. The nose was really tasty. Not overly sweet in all.


Scotch review #534, Speyside review #163, Whisky Network review #886

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