Benriach, a Speyside distillery, known mostly for a fruity, unpeated malt also has made a good amount of peated malt over the years, much of which has been released in single cask form in the last few years. Some of these have been very well-received, and usually they seem to be matured or finished in sherry/port/etc. casks. The peated whisky in their regular line is mostly ex-bourbon (I believe) and they bear odd Latin names such as “Curiositas” and “Authenticus” and so forth. Hence perhaps the name of this 17 yo which is also peated and was quite a hit when it came out almost two years ago. I finished my bottle almost exactly a year ago but, as is my wont, saved a 6 oz reference sample from when the bottle was at its prime.
Benriach “Septendecim” (46%; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Rich leathery peat, a little sour, a little earthy/mossy. Some olive brine too. More phenolic than I remember it being. More lemon but also more sweetness with time. Gets farmier/more organic as it sits and the saltiness expands. A few drops of water push the salt back a little and bring everything together nicely.
Palate: Ashy smoke and lemon but more smoke than lemon. In fact, on the second sip the lemon is far less apparent and it’s mostly the ash and a growing bitter/minerally quality that make an impression. Not quite as much body as you might expect at 46%. Gets much more phenolic as it goes. Not much change with water.
Finish: Long. The smoke turns to coal and soot and a lot of salt emerges as well. With time the farmy/organic peat is the last thing talking. With water the salt is the last thing talking.
Comments: I liked the nose a lot but this is pretty much like drinking liquid smoke. Given my approval of the Lagavulin 12s I reviewed last month you might think that I would like this a lot too, but it’s missing something, some other notes to round it off or give it an interesting counterpoint. And the palate is a little bit thin–I concede that this may be an artefact of it having sat in a sample bottle for a year, but it’s been in a tightly sealed bottle filled all the way to the top. At any rate, not bad at all.
Rating: 84 points.