Single cask releases from BenRiach will always be the heartsblood of this distillery in my eyes, but it’s truly impressive how consistently enjoyable even the standard expressions are. This 12 year old – an age that generally doesn’t excite me beyond the realms of Islay malts – performs like a budding rock star. Yes, it’s a little shy when held up against some of the other BenRiach expressions we’ve tried to date (dozens), but still puts on a hell of a show.
I’m a huge fan of naked BenRiach – there’s just something about the distillery’s fruity spirit matured in bourbon barrels that works for me – but trying it all wrapped up in a clean sherry blanket is a real treat. Interestingly enough, this one bears all the hallmarks of one of our favorite NAS malts, a’bunadh. But, shhhhhh…we’ll not deign to discuss NAS here for now. Instead, suffice it to say that this one ticks all the flavour boxes, if not necessarily the desire for the pure, unadulterated whomp! of cask strength offerings. So be it. Still a tasty drink in an approachable tax bracket.
Nose: Jammy and sweet. Almost a red licorice. Spicy. Very spicy. Like sharp cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Great berry and stone fruit aromas. Lavender and white chocolate. Soft and smells infinitely sippable. Something about this one hearkens back to gramma’s kitchen.
Palate: Cinnamon sticks and big juicy sherry notes. Jams and jellies. Candies and dried fruits. Crunchy MacIntosh apples and a squeeze of very fresh orange. Juicy and tangy.
Thoughts: Very clean sherry. Nice barrels in this one. Not far off an a’bunadh, as I said, but obviously about 15% less punching power. Maybe like an a’bunadh meets a Balvenie, if you can wrap your head around that one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt