Pretty sure this will be no less than my third go at reviewing this expression. I’ve literally seen a ten point swing in the scores I’ve levied at this one over the past six or seven years. Some of that can be laid at the feet of batch variance, no doubt, but some of it has to come back to the fact that I simply can’t wrap my head around this whisky. A circle I can’t square, if you will.
Curiositas is another peated Speyside malt from BenRiach. This time served up at a young and rambunctious decade of maturity. I’ve said many times before that peated Islay malts work well in youth, but it seems to be somewhat up-in-the-air as to whether or not mainland whiskies can carry off the toddler chic that the big guns from the Hebrides do so well.
I’ve invested in three or four bottles of Curiositas over the years, driven back time and again to suss out whether or not I’ll appreciate the malt more with the passage of time. Occasionally I’ll come ‘round a little to it and think ‘hmmm…not so bad’, but the next time I pour it I shut right down and lean towards something else, much as I do with the Ardmore Traditional Cask (now relegated to history, in favour of yet another NAS fleecing). I think this much time and effort (and money!) invested in Curiositas will finally afford me the will to simply state that this one is not for me. I’m finding too many off notes and an overall lack of charm and cohesion. We’ll stick with others in the BenRiach family, as they have incredible volumes of great whisky and generally at really good prices too.
Nose: A decent amount of smoke. Some farmy, grainy barnyard notes. Iodine. Tar and rubber (grows stronger as it opens). Musty and dusty. Grape juice. Leather, old wood and dunnage warehouses. Might be a hint of sunflower seeds. Not a lot of fruit to speak of. …And just a touch feinty, I find.
Palate: Quite aggressive. Big, bold youthful peat. Smoke. A little nutty (wal-nut?)…a little bitter. Licorice. Rubber. There are some sweet notes, but not sure I’d suggest they were ‘fruity’ sweet.
Thoughts: Meh. Just ok. A decent alternative, I suppose, but if you’re looking for quality peat, maybe go Islay instead. Or spend a little more and reach for one of the older peated BenRiachs.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt