...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Single Malt Report: BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus

You'll find me bitching and moaning about whisky finishes plenty of times on this blog, but I have yet to meet a rum-finished whisky that wasn't at least entertaining.  BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus comes to the rum-finished arena from a different angle than others.  Firstly, it's peated.  This will be the first time I've tried a peated whisky finished in rum casks.  Secondly, BenRiach didn't utilize one-note sugary rum in those casks, instead they used an unspecified Jamaican rum.  Though my experience with Jamaican rum is limited, I highly recommend that folks with adventurous palates try a glass of Smith & Cross (neatly).  Smith & Cross is a bold estery beast, and I'm probably going need to review it some day.
Almost got the JJ Abrams lens flare on this one.
I obtained this BenRiach sample from Jordan from Chemistry of the Cocktail via a sample swap.  Jordan knows much more about rum than I do; his rum posts (especially this beginner's guide) are musts.  As per his recommendation, I got to know Smith & Cross a little bit before diving into Arumaticus Fumosus.

I've been looking forward to trying this whisky for some time.  I enjoy BenRiach's peated stuff, especially the 21 year old (whose review has made everyone think I'm Weedy McPotface), and have been very impressed with the cask work utilized for BenRiach and its mate GlenDronach (despite their occasional questionable label disclosure).  So, good peated malt meets quality casks......yes, please. 

Ownership: The BenRiach Distillery Company
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks for most of its life, then finished in Jamaican dark rum casks
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colored? No

Its color is amber with very little in the way of oaky (or e150a) gold.  The nose has a definite blast of rum, but it's not the super-desserty version one will find in Balvenie Caribbean Cask, rather something with a bit of an herbal spicy bite to it.  It's well integrated, leading right to the malt and peat moss.  There are notes of a floral vanilla simple syrup, cotton candy, lemon peel, honey, molasses, wood smoke, and dry soil.  It alternates between earthy and pretty.  The palate is well-layered too.  Peat→molasses→honey→lychee and fresh cherries.  Very earthy (again) yet also sugared.  A smaller note of fresh oranges shows up occasionally.  Peat, pepper, and bitter notes begin to grow with some oxidation time.  Lots of smoke and sweets in the finish, think honeyed peat.  A hint of salty olives merges with some citrus.  The smoke grows with time.

I added a little bit of water, then took an intermission to hang out with my little critter......who immediately ate my notes (she has good taste, obviously)...

And then she came for the cell phone...

Luckily, my wife came to save me before all was lost to The Appetite.

Now back to the whisky.

WITH WATER (approx. 40%abv)
The farm takes over in the nose; very Ledaigy in fact.  The floral notes have been stripped away, leaving us with a fireplace in a candy shop.  There's a burst of dijon and honey mustard notes in the palate.  There's also some sugar, honey, and peat moss.  The smoke note is very delicate, and there might be a hint of ham in there too.  A pleasant dryness lingers into the finish.  It's much milder now, all on mustard and peat.

Having high expectations met has become a rarity for me recently, but this whisky was as good as I'd hoped.  Its palate even garnered a "Wow" from my mouth.  For me, there isn't a single misstep in the whole package.  I aim to track down a full bottle for myself and perhaps will later indulge in further hyperbole if warranted.

Tracking down a bottle can be more challenging than one might expect of a BenRiach.  While there was a Arumaticus Fumosus release in the US in 2007, it was very limited since the first batch of this experiment was limited to 290 6-bottle cases worldwide.  There appears to have been another batch or two in 2012 so that leaves me hoping that they continue producing this whisky.

Availability - Some European specialty retailers
Pricing - $65-$85 (minus VAT, including shipping)
Rating - 89