First Benrinnes review for the site. It’s always fun to cover a new one, as there aren’t a lot of Scotland’s fine distilleries we haven’t shared a few words on at this point. Benrinnes is a Diageo distillery in the heart of the Speyside region, responsible for the production of a couple million litres of spirit per annum, most of which makes its way into blends such as J&B and Johnnie Walker.
Y’never really know whether or not the decision to blend away most of a distillery’s production is due to the spirit having a decided lack of personality or simply because they have gross needs and some distillery or other needs to take the bullet. Having now tried some special casks from most of Diageo’s lesser known holdings, I can say with some assurance that there are definitely some solid malts being relegated to obscurity on the vatting floor. Sad, but true. Until the wider world develops the palate and appreciate (and income bracket) for single malts, this will continue to be the case.
Unfortunately though…this particular Benrinnes is not one of those solid malts. In fact, aside from the presentation aspect of this one (strong and naked), there isn’t much to like here.
This is a hard lesson learned in ‘try-before-you-buy’. Independent bottlings are always a gamble. The simple fact of the matter is you always have to be prepared that you may have a hefty outlay of cash in return for a mouthful of ‘not awesome’. Unfortunately there isn’t always an open bottle available for sampling and informed decision making. When curiosity gets the better of you, sometimes you simply have to take a flyer.
On a positive note…I find there are waaaaaaay more good ADR releases than bad. I imagine the warehouses are fairly teeming with great barrels. In the name of research I vow to keep trying ’em.
This, though…this is not a nice whisky. Great bottle to try, not a great bottle to buy.
Nose: Sulphur. Toffee. Prune. Raisin. Citrus zest and tart red berry. Tomato. Pepper and cinnamon. Caramel apples. Sweaty leathers. Walnut. Wine-heavy (not far off some of the more aggressive Jura releases.
Palate: Cinnamon, oak and perfume. Mint. Ash and sulphur. Tangy and rather rich in deep chewy dried fruits. There’s a pleasant mid-note before it bitters out into tannins and tea leaves. Some cereal hidden at the very back as well. Finally…apple and plum skins on the finish (contributing to that tart, tannic feel)
Thoughts: There’s honestly not a lot of ‘pleasant’ going on here. Let’s find something nice to say. Ummmmm…gorgeous colour and texture? Yep. That’s about it.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt