Benrinnes 21, 1997 (60.6%; SMWS; refill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: Pretty tight at first. As it sits there’s some cereals, some wax, some pepper and some lemon. Softens as it sits and there’s some cream too now. With more time the cereals and wax expand and there’s a sweeter note too—dried pineapple? Softer and creamier with a few drops of water; the lemon turns into citronella and the pepper turns into a light sooty note.
Palate: Pretty much as on the nose and, as expected, hot, hot, hot. This is going to need a fair bit of air and then some water. With time the lemon expands and the wax follows suit and the texture gets more full. Still pretty hot though. Okay, let’s add water. Sweeter at first with water and then there’s a burst of slightly bitter lemon peel.
Finish: Medium. Alcohol burn followed by wet wool and an indistinct sweetness, Saltier as it fades out. More lemon here too with time along some peppery olive oil. As on the palate with water, with the lemon mixing with olive oil as it goes.
Comments: This is a very nice whisky of the austere school that is not done any favours, I think, by being bottled at 60.6%. Closer to 55% is where it shows itself at its best and if you have a bottle I’d suggest diluting down at least that far to get the most out of it.
Rating: 86 points.