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Monday, May 4, 2020

Benriach 25 year old, 46.8%abv edition

Yet another tale of a whisky I was going to buy blindly as a self-treat, then hesitated, only to watch the price rise and the ABV dip. Normally I wouldn't seek out a whisky with a sizable portion of virgin oak maturation, but I've been a big fan of Benriach's cask management and blending teams. Well, at least when they were under Billy Walker's management. The Brown-Forman era has yielded mixed results. The first round of cask strength releases were disappointing, but the 12 year old Sherry Wood was a very positive surprise. Yet those whiskies are babies compared to this 25-year-old. So I don't know what to expect. I'm not a complete pessimist, I do hope this is very good so I can issue forth with PG-rated self abuse.

Distillery: Benriach
Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company (Brown-Forman)
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Age: at least 25 years
Maturation: sherry casks, bourbon casks and virgin oak casks
Alcohol by Volume: 46.8%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colored? No
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins with fresh peaches and nectarines, marasca syrup and amaretto. Then there's toffee pudding, vanilla fudge and musty old oak staves. A bit more heat to it than expected. Balancing out the palate's malty and fruity (lemons, limes and cherry lollipops) sweetness, are mild umami and salty waves. Smaller notes of ginger beer and musty casks in the background. Tart citrus and a zesty bitterness build with time. Tart citrus and toffee leadoff the finish. Later on there are notes of marshmallow fluff and roasted almonds.

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or ½ tbl of water per 30mL whisky
No you don't want to do this. It's Tannin City.

Though this unpeated Benriach 25yo does not blast into the stratosphere like the peated 25yo, it's a very pleasant drinker with good balance and a little bit of complexity (when neat). And I'm not even going to complain about the price. "The hell you say," you say. Yes. It's on the lower pricing end of official 25 year old single malts and arrives with (possibly) the highest ABV of them all. If you do own a bottle, I recommend keeping its contents neat and enjoying it during the springtime.

Availability - Many European and American specialty retailers
Pricing - Europe: $175-$225; USA: $300-$400 (sad trombone)
Rating - 87 (neat)

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