Benriach 21, “Authenticus”

Hello! This is the Benriach 21 Authenticus, one of the long line of whiskies with silly names released in the Billy Walker era at the distillery; this one was peated to boot. It was discontinued some years ago and replaced with a 25 yo. I have no idea if that 25 yo has since been replaced by a NAS whisky named Feinticus Erroneous, though I rather expect it has. I purchased this from Binny’s as well right before it went off the market and only recently got around to opening it for one of my local group’s tastings. It was a big hit there, not least for displaying certain characteristics that you may be able to discern by reading between the lines of my opaque notes below. These characteristics, surprisingly, are not noted by everyone who has reviewed it—Serge, for example, mentions them not. Michael K., on the other hand, recognizes them gleefully, and if anyone should know, it is he. (Let’s just say that he has a great enthusiasm for horticulture.) Anyway, on to the untimely review! 

Benriach 21, “Authenticus” (46%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Weed, weed, weed. Plus a bit of oak, a bit of salt and an earthy, mushroomy, mossy peaty mix. Sweeter with a couple of drops of water but still quite weedy.

Palate: Weed, weed, weed. Also, quite a lot of weed. There’s some weed too. And some weed as I swallow. With time there’s weed and behind that some weed. There was something else too but I can’t remember what it was. Okay, I’m back: there’s some tobacco now and some juicy citrus (orange) and a touch of apricot jam; a pleasant metallic note as well (a copper coin). Gets peatier with time (earthy rather than smoky here too). After a lot more time (more than an hour) the smoke is now quite ashy. Sharper with water.

Finish: Medium. Not as much weed as on the nose and palate but there’s definitely some weed. The smoke emerges here at the end and the salt comes back too and brings some savoury gunpowder with it. Less salt with water and the gunpowder is knocked back as well.

Comments: This weed-whisky infusion is pretty good. Seriously, I can’t remember ever having another whisky that tasted so much like weed. It threatens to be one note but the fruity notes around the edges add some complexity and counterpoint. I like it a fair bit and I’m going to give it a couple of extra points for uniqueness. I preferred it neat.

Rating: 88 points.

6 thoughts on “Benriach 21, “Authenticus”

  1. I’ve either had a bottle of this a few years ago and, being the innocent that I am, didn’t notice it, or bought it and have it stored away in my archive downstairs. I know for sure I tasted it at a whisky festival, which is where I would have bought it, and thought it was just really peaty/smoky. The skunky odor of weed makes me nauseous, and this didn’t do that.


  2. I remember having this at a tasting several years ago. While pouring my dram, Alistair Walker remarked to me that it “Smells a wee bit like marijuana, not that I’d know!”


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