Benrinnes 20 (The Whisky Exchange)

Benriness 20, Time II, The Whisky Exchange
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? Continue reading

Benrinnes 20, 1995 (Signatory for K&L)

Benrinnes 20, 1995 (Signatory for K&L)
This is the second in my mini-run of reviews of recent Signatory exclusives for K&L. As with the Imperial 19, 1995, this was part of a bottle split with a bunch of other whisky geeks all interested in finding out if we wanted full bottles. In the case of the Imperial my own answer was “no”. Let’s see how things go with this Benrinnes. It’s always my hope to discover quality casks from the lower tier Scottish distilleries, as that is increasingly the only zone where good deals can be had.

I’ve reviewed even fewer Benrinnes on the blog than I have Imperials, and I’ve not tasted very many more either. And all of the ones that I have tasted have come across as fairly regulation fruity bourbon cask Speysiders (ex-bourbon Benriness seems to be the majority of what’s available in the US—I note this because the distillery is most known for its sherry matured spirit). As such I was not prepared for what I found in this Benrinnes: a lot of peat.

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Benrinnes 23, 1988 (Mackillop’s Choice)

Benrinnes 1988, Mackillop's Choice
Benrinnes is another distillery with which I am not too well acquainted. It is in the Speyside and pumps out a lot of whisky for Diageo’s blends–they’re known for a sherried style and for triple-distillation* (the only Speysider apparently to do this). The only regular official release, I think, is the 15 yo in the Flora & Fauna range. I haven’t had this one, but I’ve had some indies: a younger, more atypical cask strength ex-bourbon 11 yo from Signatory (which I liked fine) and two older releases, one of which I liked well enough (a 26 yo from Chieftain’s), one that I thought was just okay (a 25 yo from the Bladnoch forum). I’m hoping to get to know these distilleries that are relative blindspots for me a little better and so this Mackillop’s Choice bottling.

*Edit: see clarifications in the comments on this score.   Continue reading