Benrinnes 23, 1997, OMC for K&L

Let’s do another week of reviews of whiskies from Speyside distilleries and also another week of single casks bottled for K&L in California. We’ll continue the trajectory of rising age followed in this month’s first week of Speyside reviews—which included a 10 yo Dailuaine, an 18 yo Linkwood and a 20 yo Tamdhu. First up is a 23 yo Benrinnes. I believe it sold for $120 which seems like a blockbuster price for a 23 yo single malt. But as I’ve had occasion to note before, a good deal is not merely the ratio of price to age but more appropriately of price to quality. Will this Benrinnes fit the bill on both counts? Let’s see.

Benrinnes 23, 1997 (58.4%; OMC for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split) 

Nose: Sweet, slightly citrussy notes with a mineral, almost sooty edge. As it sits there’s a fair bit of malt and some vanilla. Sweeter as it sits with some honey joining the malt and then the citrus expands as well. Alas, with water the astringent notes begin to show up here as well.

Palate: Leads with oak on the palate with a glassy note behind it and then some indistinct acid as I swallow. Gets more bitter with each sip (oak extract) and weirdly some simple syrup emerges to join it.. Okay, let’s see if water improves things. No, it doesn’t.

Finish: Long. The bitterness continues here, getting more astringent. The cloying sweetness follows through here as well. Water improves nothing here either.

Comments: I liked the nose neat but things went south in a hurry after that and never recovered. All in all, another of those K&L casks that remind you that what seems like a good price for a 20+ yo whisky is often not actually good use of money.

Rating: 80 points. (Pulled up by the nose.)



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