...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Single Malt Report: BenRiach Aloysius Snuffleupagus

Billy Walker fell victim to sentimentality.  As the co-owner and director of whisky operations at Benriach Distillery Company Limited, about to release the first of his cask-finished 12 year old peated whiskies, he struggled to find a name for his product.  Late at night in his lonely palace on a gated hill in Cape Town, memories of his joyful innocent childhood filled his thoughts and a name escaped from his lips.  Snuffleupagus.

Big Bird's imaginary friend perfectly represented his new whisky.  The sherry-finished single malt was pleasant and enigmatic, furry and a little lumpy, but had a great nose.  The actual Aloysius Snuffleupagus, from the groundbreaking reality series "The Street", was seemingly not of this world, but instead from the very edge of The Unconscious.  He was not shiny and giggly; something dark weighed on those long eyelashes.  Visually, he was a child's version of Dickens' nighttime "undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato".  Yet he was never the brown acid night terror of H.R. Pufnstuf.

But as Billy Walker, a child of the early '70s, got older he left "The Street" behind for matters of commerce.  How would Mr. BenRiach have felt, as his wealth grew, to turn the channel back to the show he'd once loved so much, to witness how the producers had committed to Marxist manipulation, utilizing songs, happy faces, and bright graphics to trick children into seeing everyone as equals in the global economy?  In 1985, he would have seen how the show had dared to reveal that Aloysius Snuffleupagus was not a figment of the imagination.  This hairy overweight sexually-ambiguous ethnically-complex being was real and needed to be treated with equal dignity and respect.  As usual, Oscar the Grouch provided the lone voice of dissent.

But Mr. Walker was too busy watching the green stock ticker on his IBM personal computer that day.  It was twenty-two years later, in February 2007, just before the bottle labels were to be printed, when one of his unpaid interns asked how many cases of this single malt needed to be sent to Snuffy's residence, that the plans began to unravel.  Soon Walker and his lawyers were on their way to where the air is sweet in order to head off any legal action.  Though Aloysius had no attorney, he was represented by his domineering mother Hortense Snuffleupagus (née Jones) who proved to be immovable, even after given promises of international notoriety.  Mrs. Snuffleupagus saw fame as nothing but another tool of control and oppression wielded by the ruling class in their commanding heights.  Plus she asked for way too much money.

Grief stricken, but unwilling to display a moment of weakness, Billy Walker immediately elected to go with his second choice, naming his peated scotch whisky after the Ancient Greek Father of History and a Latin word that means stinky.  Because that makes sense.

Behold BenRiach Heredotus Fumosus.

Meanwhile, Herodotus be all...
"What the Halicarnassus?!"

Ownership: The BenRiach Distillery Company
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon casks for most of its life, then finished in Pedro Ximenez casks
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colored? No
Sample obtained via swap. Thanks to Jordan D.!

Its fur color is reddish brown.  The peat element of the nose is quite sizable considering the ABV.  There are also lots of rose petals, dried cherries, and baked plums.  There's also a note of sugary olives, reminiscent of Smith & Cross rum (a massive spirit and a steal at $30).  Smaller notes of toffee and black raisins/currants.  A nice chocolate, plummy palate.  The peat is milder (in the mid-palate) and there is a bright fruity note from the finishing casks.  Cassis, baked apples, and concrete(!).  Good oily mouthfeel.  It finishes with a minty menthol glow, mesquite smoke, maraschino cherries, and those baked apples.  A small spicy zing and a dried herb note in the aftertaste.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Though the volume has been turned down the peat, sherry, and oak all get a little grimier in the nose.  More cough syrup and band-aids.  Maybe a hint of sulphur.  Eucalyptus and dried grass.  Medicinal in the palate as well.  Darker fruit (berries, dried stuff, etc.) and a little bit of good bitterness.  Some of that eucalyptus/menthol.  It keeps the oily mouthfeel and never gets too sweet.  Menthol, mellow wood smoke, light bitterness, and salt in the finish.

The whisky was much better than I'd expected.  I'm usually not the biggest fan of PX casks and am ambivalent about most finishes, but this whisky is well composed and never sticky sweet.  It's too bad I found it too late in its history.  If it were still around, I'd recommend it as a decent alternative to Uigeadail, definitely over Laphroaig's PX Cask.  But, alas, it's gone.  May its friendly namesake live on in all his fuzzy huggable glory.  And Snuffleupagus too.

Availability - Happy hunting
Pricing - $55-$75
Rating - 88