Here is the second of two reviews of K&L exclusives. I did not enjoy last week’s Faultline Blended Scotch Whisky at all. Will this Benriach, which is much older, be better? It won’t take much. This is from a bourbon barrel and made from peated malt (Benriach is one of the few Speyside distilleries that regularly issues peated whisky—see also my reviews of their Curiositas, Septendecim, Arumaticus Fumosus and Solstice). K&L originally attempted to sell it for $150 but after a while were forced to lower the price to $109, at which point it eventually sold out. Good to see sanity prevailing every once in a while among customers in our overheated market.
As with the Faultline blend, this is review is being posted simultaneously with that of Michael K. and Jordan D. I’ll have the links once everything’s live. I wonder if we’ll have more agreeement this time.
Benriach 19, 1994 (53%; bourbon barrel 7187; for K&L; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Quite peaty, and surprisingly medicinally so: antiseptic, bandaids etc. Salt and then some sweetness as well: like a glaze for grilled meat; in fact, it gets meatier as it goes. With more time it’s more cereally. With a lot more time there are sweeter notes of vanilla and pastry and the peat gets a little more floral too. Mellower with water and even more Islay in character (quite reminiscent of Caol Ila actually with vanilla mixed in with the peat).
Palate: Very peaty here too but it’s a drier peat—more regulation Speyside style: woodier, earthier rather than medicinal. On the second sip there’s lemon to round out the dry notes. Very nice thick mouthfeel and very drinkable indeed at full strength. Gets saltier as it goes and more peppery (white pepper), and there’s more medicinal/iodine notes now. But there’s no significant new development—no sign of the fruit that’s often present in unpeated bourbon cask Benriach. Okay, let’s see what water does. It makes the smoke much ashier and more intense and integrates the whole; still, no fruit.
Finish: Long. Lots of charred wood and pepper and salt. As on the palate with water.
Comments: For a bourbon barrel this exhibited quite a lot of refill sherry character (meatiness, no bright fruit). I wonder if this is another instance of re-racking from the Benriach people (who also run Glendronach). Well, I liked it a lot anyway, simple though it was. $150 was too much to ask for this but at $109 it might well have been a good deal. Oh well, I have four ounces left from my split. Water was good to it, I thought.
Rating: 87 points.