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. Continue reading →
Benrinnes is a distillery whose whiskies I always find interesting. Sadly, I don’t often get a chance to taste them as there’s not a lot of it around—not in the US anyway. I’ve only reviewed a small handful on the blog. The last time I reviewed a Benrinnes bottled as an exclusive cask for K&L the bottler was Signatory and the cask was 20 years old. Now the bottler is Old Particular and the cask is 15 years old. However, as you will see, I had a similar experience with both: finding notes in them that I was not prepared for by K&L’s tasting notes, in particular, a fair bit of peat. I noted last time that I had worried that the sample had been mislabeled but then heard from others who had found similar things in it. This time I’ve not heard from anyone else. If you too have a sample of this whisky or, better still, an open bottle, do write in below to say if my notes track at all with yours. I’m particularly interested in hearing from you if you are not an employee of K&L. Let’s get to it. Continue reading →
I’ve reviewed very little Benrinnes on the blog and have not had very many more than I have reviewed. All the ones I have reviewed have been in their 20s, the oldest being this 23 yo distilled in 1988. Today’s is a year older than that but was distilled much earlier, in 1972. The early 1970s mark for many whisky geeks a boundary of sorts between eras. Whiskies made at a number of distilleries through 1972 or so have a greater reputation than anything they’ve made since (and in some cases, before). Such, for example, are Longmorn and Caperdonich. I somewhat doubt that there are any golden age narratives for Benrinnes, a distillery with not much of a reputation of any kind but I am interested to see what continuity, if any, there may be between Benrinnes of this era and more recent examples of its malt. Both the Whisky Exchange and Signatory 20 year olds I’ve reviewed had a bracing mix of lime peel and mineral notes with palpable peat. Let’s see if this one is in the same family (despite being from a sherry butt). Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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.