Benrinnes 23, 1988 (Mackillop’s Choice)

Benrinnes 1988, Mackillop's Choice
Benrinnes is another distillery with which I am not too well acquainted. It is in the Speyside and pumps out a lot of whisky for Diageo’s blends–they’re known for a sherried style and for triple-distillation* (the only Speysider apparently to do this). The only regular official release, I think, is the 15 yo in the Flora & Fauna range. I haven’t had this one, but I’ve had some indies: a younger, more atypical cask strength ex-bourbon 11 yo from Signatory (which I liked fine) and two older releases, one of which I liked well enough (a 26 yo from Chieftain’s), one that I thought was just okay (a 25 yo from the Bladnoch forum). I’m hoping to get to know these distilleries that are relative blindspots for me a little better and so this Mackillop’s Choice bottling.

*Edit: see clarifications in the comments on this score.  

Benrinnes 23, 1988 (43%; Mackillop’s Choice; cask 2836; from a purchased sample)

It does not specify on Whiskybase (and presumably on the label) but this looks like it’s probably ex-bourbon. Why it was not bottled at cask strength, I don’t know: most of the Mackillop’s Choice bottles I’ve seen have been at cask strength.

Nose: Grassy, malty sweetness. Not much else at first but after a little air there’s some musky fruit under it–nothing very distinct though. With more time there’s orange peel and the malt’s a little more roasted now. Not bad.

Palate: Sweet at first but then there’s some citrus followed by a metallic bitterness. The mouthfeel is too thin. There’s a little more depth on the second sip with the citrus intensifying a little (lemon rather than orange here)

Finish: Longer than expected. The sweetness lingers a little but mostly it’s metallic, turning bitter (in an uninteresting kind of way).

Comments: This may be old but it’s not got a whole lot going on other than the age. Kind of run of the mill and anonymous. I didn’t add water as it didn’t seem likely to me that it was going to do the whisky much good–but who knows, maybe it would have gained some complexity.

Rating: 82 points.

8 thoughts on “Benrinnes 23, 1988 (Mackillop’s Choice)

  1. Benrinnes has an ubiquitous presence on the US shelves: Rattray’s Stronachie 12yo, with older versions also available. I did not know they triple-distill. Are you sure about this? Auchentoshan makes a lot of noise over them being the only Scotch distillery that triple-distills. Also, Benrinnes has a beefy body (not in your bottle, apparently) that seems incongruous with triple-distillation.

    FWIW, here were my notes for the Stronachie 12yo – there are some similarities but also differences with your much older bottle:

    “Although a little rough around the edges, it has a strong personality, it’s whisky with character. Engrossing bee-hive smell, with toffee and bakery; salty; a little grungy, not particularly clean or elegant. The taste is consistent with the smell. The alcohol is a little strong and may need taming with a drop of water. The finish is a bit of a letdown, medium-short and slightly bitter. A manly whisky, great around a campfire or for a night at the beach. 3*”


  2. I just saw the latest K&L Spirit Journal post on the Davids visiting Benrinnes. You didn’t tell us that you and Driscoll do simultaneous reviews, that’s a fantastic development!


    • Yes, I’ve been part of their affiliate program for years. I only pretend to make fun of them from time to time in order to keep up appearances.


    • Something interesting I noticed in David’s post is that Benrinnes is back to double distillation. According to Malt Madness, the stills were rearranged around 2006-2007 so most independent bottles are probably from the 2.5 distillations days.


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