Do I want my Benrinnes without Sherry maturation? Or even a finish?
I’m sorry sir, why would you ask such a question? A Benrinnes and a sherry cask go together like the US and rugged individualism, even to the point of self-harm. Having one without the other just leads to, I don’t know, terrible things.
This was my reaction when asked if I wanted to purchase a recent ex-bourbon Benrinnes. Because I’m stubborn. It’s part of getting older. According to some people I’ll be burning crosses and blaming minorities for my issues in no time, all while feeling I worked the hardest in my life and ignoring all history classes I ever took to ensure my own biases.
But gripping social commentary aside, I decided I wasn’t going to take another chance on an ex-bourbon barrel Benrinnes, even though I’ve had one or two that were tasty, even though I’ve had ones mixed into Stronachie that was very good, and even though it was picked by Cadenheads, whom I feel do a good job.
So to compare it, I also had an ex-sherry Benrinnes from Adelphi, whom I also stan pretty hard.
Perhaps I’m wrong again, or perhaps I’m not. Let’s see, shall we?
Thanks to /u/xile_ for sharing each of these drams
Benrinnes 18 2000 Cadenhead Small Batch
Price: € 100
Cask Type: 4 Bourbon Barrels
Number of bottles: 546
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Chicken stock, persimmon, oak, marshmallow, Smarties, icing Savoury, herbal, fruity, and sweet. Water really brings sweetness, like it’s aiming to need a rambler to get around the shops.
Odd combination, but I’m digging it. Unique nose. Gets floral, tropical, and balanced. I almost wish I didn’t add water given the sweet explosion. Much like the molasses flood of 1919.
Taste: Cinnamon, butter, peanut, strawberry ice cream, orange/cardamom
Spice, good buttery backbone, nice nuttiness, and even some sugar/spice on it. All very mellow but still nice to sip on. Not as bonkers as the nose.
Yeah, I was wrong for not wanting this.
Finish: Cinnamon, ham, Smarties, alcohol, plum, coffee
The finish brings back bonkers like Disney trying to find more money in children. Sweet, alcohol, but also bitter and meaty going on like a good Benrinnes should.
Conclusion: How did they not screw up an ex-Bourbon Benrinnes? Maybe you need a proper vatted version out there to balance it all out and give something, like this. Someone at Cadenhead’s dropped the ball here. Forgot the important note about these expecting to be bad and made something good.
Jokes aside, this was unique, interesting, and nice to sip on. Good balance goes off the beaten path and gets brash but not enough that I don’t like it. So I’m glad I was wrong, though splitting this probably would have been a good idea. Oh well.
Benrinnes 13 2006 Adelphi
Cask Type: 1st Fill Oloroso Sherry Hogshead
Cask Number: 305385
No. of bottles: 267
Colour: 2.5YR 2/8
Nose: Raisin, heather, mineral, cinnamon, salted caramel tart, peach jam
Obvious sherry is obvious. Good balance between the brash sherry and whisky notes have that lovely heather floral mixed with spice and raisin. The two just work together.
Hey, there’s my bias! Right where I left it!
Taste: Raisin, heather, orange, caramel, peach cobbler
Similar to the nose, though a bit less brine and a lot more butter. Which really depends on the type of person you are if that’s a plus or minus. Me? It’s a big plus. Butter is life.
Good acidity. Well balanced.
Finish: Mineral, cinnamon, orange, passionfruit, chocolate
Sweet, fruity, though shorter than I’d like. I feel like the whisky loses out a bit here to the sherry madness, less of the whisky’s profile shines through.
Conclusion: A well rounded, oh who am I kidding, I’m biased as hell. Literally, the one above this was an exceptional Benrinnes that shines above and this one is your standard, cask strength amaze-balls Sherry Benrinnes and I’m a sucker for the combination.
If I was in charge of Benrinnes it’d be nothing but awesome sherry casks and probably zero profit. Thank goodness that isn’t happening. Right here? Complexity, fun, sweet, and takes water like a champ. The only part that was a slight miss (and I still loved it) was the finish.
Knock 3 points off if you’re balanced versus my notes.
Scotch review #1328-9, Speyside review #363-4, Whisky Network review #1988-9