The Whisky Exchange has recently launched a new series that they call Time. Apparently, the intent is to explore the effects of different times of maturation. However, as the series features whiskies of different ages from different distilleries, from different cask types, and of different peating levels, it’s not clear if this exploration of time makes finally for more than a nice label. On the other hand, we should be glad that they’re not going with a timeless theme as so many official releases are these days.
This Benrinnes, the second release in the series, is the oldest of the four that have come out so far. There’s also a 15 yo “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, it’s Glenfarclas”, an 8 yo Glen Moray and an 11 yo Ledaig. I believe they were released at TWE’s annual Whisky Show in October but don’t quote me on that. They all appear to be single cask releases but for some reason the year of distillation doesn’t seem to be noted for any of them and while the number of bottles for each release is listed the cask number is left out—I’m not sure why that is. I’m also not sure what it means that this is listed as a Whisky Exchange bottling and not a Single Malts of Scotland bottling. Is that basically what happens when a release is a TWE store exclusive? Or are they selected by entirely different people as well?
Benrinnes 20 (50%; bourbon casks; The Whisky Exchange, Time II; from my own bottle)
Nose: A deep hit of lime zest with a mild, floral sweetness behind. With more time there’s a light cereal note along with some vanilla. A bit of rubber/hot tarmac in the background too. With more time the vanilla and cereal notes get more pronounced. Water pushes the lime back a bit and pulls out a mild berry sweetness (raspberry) along with muskier notes.
Palate: Leads with the lime zest, turning brighter as it goes. Much sweeter here than on the nose but not cloying. Gets more peppery as I swallow. Lovely oily mouthfeel and perfectly drinkable at full strength. More of a prickly, mineral note along with the pepper as it goes. Let’s see what water does. As on the nose it pushes the lime back; more balanced now between the acid, the pepper and the sweeter notes. Some muskier fruit here too now—peach?
Finish: Long. The lime and pepper keep going for a good long while. With a lot of time a faintly soapy note pops up right at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is very nice indeed. An old-school bourbon cask profile, not sexy in the least but very, very good and very well balanced—I really enjoyed the bit of prickly peat behind everything else. Bottled at the perfect strength—very good as is, and also very good brought down to about 46%. I look forward to drinking the rest of this; it will be interesting to see if it gets fruitier still as it sits with more air in the bottle.
Rating: 87 points.