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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Single Malt Report: BenRiach 17 year old Septendecim (peated)

Such is my skill with languages that even after two years of high school Latin I had no idea that septendecim was an actual real word, let alone Latin for 17.  I do know that in Spanish it's diecisiete and in Italian it's diciassette.  The latter I had to doublecheck via Google Translate.  But on a similar vein, I'm pretty sure "Authenticas" means neither 21 or 25, nor "Curiositas" ten, in Latin, so why did BenRiach go with those names for three of their whiskies?  I'm not sure why Benriach couldn't just call it BenRiach 17, other than to differentiate it from the unpeated 16 year old.  This is amazing content.  I'll move on.

I don't have a sexy sample pic saved on my camera
so here's the official bottle photo.

Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Age: minimum 17 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
Sample obtained during a paid event held by LA Scotch Club

Nice to see an official 17 year old whisky whose color is a light amber shade.  The nose begins with a simple farmy candied peat.  Underneath that are apple skins, ash, and burnt cotton candy.  With time it picks up some violets and a little bit of caramel.  Same simple sweet peat in the palate.  Almonds and amaretto with peeps of vanilla and jasmine.  Smaller notes of bitterness, dusty soil, and sweet apples.  It finishes sweet and earthy.  Hints of lemon and cocoa.  Not long, but not short.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose is much brighter.  Lemons, grapefruit juice, lychee, and confectioner's sugar.  A little bit of vanilla.  Less peat.  The palate is more floral and mildly sweet.  The peat's up front, then vanishes quickly.  Some apple juice and a spicy tingle.  There's also a mineral edge in the background.  Its finish is of vanilla, sugar, citrus, and pepper.

I liked this.  Kinda hits the 'B' grade dead on.  I wouldn't call it a complex whisky, but it does develop a different personality when enough water is added.  It delivers peat and sweets, some fruit and spice.  The oak either remains in the distance or compliments the spirit.  In that last aspect it succeeds where the peated single cask reviewed yesterday does not.  It also makes me very interested in trying the port-finished 17yo Solstice.

Septendecim appears to be a lot scarcer than it used to be.  Personally, I would not consider buying it in the $90 range, but at $70 it becomes a good 'maybe' -- considering age, the less altered state of the liquid, and its general quality.  If it is on its way out then it's not the biggest of tragedies, losing the superior Authenticas 21 has been a bigger bummer.

Availability - gradually getting scarcer in the US
Pricing - $70-$90
Rating - 85