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Thursday, February 15, 2018

BenRiach Peated Cask Strength, batch 1

Top Five Thoughts about This Whisky Before the Review:
  1. This whisky was tasted side-by-side with the regular BenRiach Cask Strength, batch 1.
  2. I did not like the regular BenRiach Cask Strength, batch 1.
  3. BenRiach's peated whisky tends to be very good, especially with some age to it. See the 21yo Authenticus, 17yo Solstice, 12yo Arumaticus Fumosus, etc.
  4. But I found the NAS peated Glendronach — which, like today's whisky, was distilled by Billy Walker's staff — to be very underwhelming.
  5. Will the mix of casks + heavy peating help this whisky rise above the regular CS? Or will those factors make things uglier?
Distillery: BenRiach
Ownership: Brown Forman
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Age: youthful
Maturation: Oloroso Sherry casks and Bourbon barrels
Alcohol by Volume: 56%
Chillfiltration? No
Added Colorant? No
(from purchased sample)

Its color is pale, which may hint at mellow casks. The nose is full of earthy/mossy peat, sort of reminiscent of baby Ledaig. Then lemons, vanilla, white rice, ham and old sweat. The palate is all peat moss, cayenne pepper and gunpowder up front. Gradually, small notes of sour berries, bitter cocoa and ginger beer appear. The finish is lightly sweet and plenty hot, with peat, pepper and salt.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv
The nose is much prettier now. Candied peat and floral notes. Vanilla, mint and anise. Somehow, the palate feels even bigger. Heavy peat. Intense bitterness. Lots of pepper. Tangy berries and bitter chocolate. It finishes bitter, smoky and peppery.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv
The nose's peat goes sugary and sooty, reminiscent of young Ardbeg. Also some lemons and churros. The palate finally calms down. Light sweetness and pleasant saltiness. Vanilla and mildly bitter smoke. The finish also chills out. Light sweets, smoke and pepper. An acidic zing.

A few things are certain. The sherry element is nearly silent. The American oak is vocal. Lots of peat, everywhere. And, yeah, it's young.

BUT. It's less abusive than the regular CS......which is not what I'd expected. While the palate is neither exciting or complex, it's better than the unpeated version. Again, the nose is the best part.

With that being said, this seems to be the weakest of Benriach's official peated stuff. Of course, all those other peated releases were distilled by Seagram, not Billy Walker & Co. I look forward to Walker's peated distillate getting some double-digit age to it. In the meantime, the 10yo Curiositas is a better choice.

Availability - European retailers
Pricing - $65-$90
Rating - 79

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