So…having just shared a few thoughts on what could almost be considered a ‘sister bottling’ to this release (a GlenDronach similarly finished in tawny port and also dished up at a respectable 15 years old), let’s take a peek at how BenRiach holds up when afforded the same treatment.
I refer to these releases as ‘sisters’ in that BenRiach and GlenDronach are both owned by The BenRiach company. Having the distilleries elect to release such similarly engineered whiskies is actually quite a stroke of genius. Particularly for those out there with a knowledge of, or affinity for, these two Speyside artisans. It allows a rare opportunity to speculate on the merits of the finishing process (and choice of finishing casks) by direct contrast between a couple of familiar and high quality single malts. Coincidentally or otherwise, these are actually two of my favorite distilleries, particularly in their more aged expressions. (I find the ’70s were particularly good to both distilleries, with a bunch of great early to mid ’80s ‘Riachs also being rather exceptional).
Now that I’ve highlighted the relationship between distilleries, I should note that the whiskies produced therein are very much unique fingerprints. BenRiach is a distillery with much less of a bent towards the heavily-sherried than GlenDronach, and possibly a more adventurous approach to single malt alchemy. The backbone of the malt seems quite sweet and clean in all of the expressions I’ve tried, irrespective of how heavily ‘made up’ some of the individual releases may be (Curiositas, Authenticus, Solstice, etc). Perhaps that’s what makes the spirit seem so malleable and succesful in so many of its guises.
This dram was tasted side by side with the afore-mentioned GlenDronach Tawny and absolutely took the higher marks. The profile is a little broader and more balanced. Seems a touch sweet for my liking, but all of the individual notes are quite exceptional. Neat whisky.
Nose: Pepper and jam. Chewy white nougat candy (Roman Nougat bars with fruit gums and all). Chocolate fudge. Toasted coconut with tangy pineapple. Dusting of cinnamon. Damp tobacco. Notes much like a strawberry perfume. A bit of grape. Very sweet. Great profile, but maybe the sweetness needs to be dialed back from 10 to 6.
Palate: Grape skins. Dark dried fruit tannins. Oak notes. A bit of chocolate orange and old ginger. Much less on the palate than the nose. Coffee and dark chocolate. Even some milk chocolate.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: BenRiach