Feb 042012
 

BenRiach Range Tasting

 

 

What is a BFB?

Well…it’s an overnight whisky event for couples only.  Usually half the couples drink whisky and the other half drink some other less satisfying alcoholic beverage.  We tolerate the non-whisky drinkers only because we can hijack the evening for our purposes and have a completely guilt free whisky tasting with GOOD friends (a friend is someone who will help you move…a GOOD friend is someone who will help you move a dead body).  The only problem is, sometimes the conversation gets side tracked away from whisky, but a slight pause in the discussion and a really loud voice can usually rail a derailed conversation back to whisky, after all,  if it’s not about whisky & cigars, is it really worth talking about?  BFB stands for ‘Bed for Breakfast’, which means whoever hosts the event supplies the beds and whoever doesn’t supply the beds, has to prepare breakfast.  We have hosted many of these events in the past and are always surprised at what great cooks whisky drinkers are, especially when whisky is one of the ingredients!

BenRiach, for the benefit of the great unwashed, means “The Hill of the Red Deer”.  The distillery is located in the beautiful Spey Valley and was created in 1898.  Unfortunately, it only produced whisky for two years before succumbing to a whisky crash and was mothballed (sounds a little like Diageo corporate planning).  However, the malting floors continued to be operated and supplied the neighboring distillery, Longmorn, with malted barley from which they produced a product called Longben or long-been which has long been making Longmorn better.  In 1965, after a sale, the distillery was almost completely rebuilt and whisky production started up again.  In 1972 peat was added to the drying of the barley to satisfy the smoky blends at the time and screw over the peat workers union on Islay.   1999 was the end of the floor malting operations at BenRiach which have helped to shape the shoulders of many a hunchback for last 101 years.  In 2002, the distillery was again mothballed until 2004, when it was resold to the current ownership and production started again.

In 2010, Alistair Walker came to Calgary and after a grand tasting (and before passing out) he made a bold offer to us all to come to BenRiach for a visit and try a sample from one of the two remaining 1966 casks.  In 2011, a small group of VIP’s from Calgary showed up to be drammed with 1966 only to be denied by a kind, but stern, gatekeeper and Distillery Manager, Mad Max Stewart Buchannan.  The day was saved when a compromise was made and it was agreed that we could try everything else.  We started by trying over 30 samples (I kid you not) in an effort to choose another cask for the KWM.  We were then treated to the ‘soon to be released’ Batch 8, 2011 Limited Releases …..  I don’t remember much after that.

 

This Benriach Range tasting was designed to highlight the different influences from Bourbon, Sherry, Port and Madeira and to also try some lightly peated to heavily peated non-Islay whiskies, but more importantly, it was about good friends and great whisky!

 

 

BENRIACH RANGE TASTING :

#1          1971 - April , 2011       Cask #1947  Hogshead  49.8 % ABV  Bottle #47 of 229

#2          1972 - July , 2011       Cask #802  Hogshead  40.1 % ABV Bottle #147 of 169

#3          1978 - June , 2006       Cask #1596  Hogshead  54.0 % ABV Bottle #83 of 201

#4          1994 - Sept , 2009       Cask #4810  Madeira Finish  57.1 % ABV Bottle #153 of 250 for KWM

#5          1977 - July , 2010       Cask #1033  Pedro Ximinez Sherry Finish  52.2 % ABV Bottle #185 of 331

#6          1975 - August , 2007       Cask #4451  Port Pipe  53.7 Bottle #479 of 707

#7          1984 - July , 2010       Cask #4052  Tawny Port Finish – Peated  51.7 % ABV Bottle #116 of 265

#8          15 Year old - Solstice       Heavily Peated & Finished in Tawny Port Pipes  50 % ABV

 

 

#1      1971 - April , 2011       Cask # 1947 Hogshead  49.8 % ABV  Bottle # 47 of 229

NOSE:  Tons-O-Fruit.  Watermelon, oranges, pineapple, it just keeps going.  Eucalyptus.  Refreshing.

TASTE:  More fruit, but more tropical.  Milk chocolate.  Fresh bourbon vanilla.  Bit of tannins.

FINISH:  Medium.  Very dry.

ASSESSMENT:  Benriach 1971 you are my fire , the one desire  believe when I say I want it that way and by the gallon ( 4 liter ) size .

Group rated #1 whisky for the night with the most number one votes .

 

 

#2      1972 - July , 2011       Cask # 802    Hogshead  40.1 % ABV Bottle # 147 of 169

NOSE:  Oranges, pears and melons.  Marshmallow sweet.  Almonds.  Stunning.

TASTE:  Very floral.  Creamy vanilla bean.  Caramel milk chocolate and  fruits again.

FINISH:  Medium and a little more.  Bit drying

ASSESSMENT:  This whisky has it, yeah baby, it’s got it, BenRiach I’m your fan, I’m your devotee, at your desire.

Group rated #2 whisky tasted .

 

 

 

 

#3      1978 - June , 2006       Cask # 1596  Hogshead  54.0 % ABV Bottle # 83 of 201

NOSE:  The sugar train stops here, uber sweet.  Pears and apricots.

TASTE:  Coffee.  Dark chocolate.  Trace of peat smoke.

FINISH:  Medium to long.  Nice and warming.  Almost bitter.

ASSESSMENT:  It’s such a good vibration, it’s such a sweet sensation.

Group rated #4 whisky tasted

 

 

#4      1994 - Sept , 2009       Cask # 4810   Madeira Finish  57.1 % ABV Bottle # 153 of 250  Bottled for KWM

NOSE:  Sweet fruit syrupy, almost like a liqueur.  Burnt sugar with vanilla bean.

TASTE:  Sugar & spice and all things nice.  Black licorice that coats the tongue and deep stewed fruits.

FINISH:  Long and spicy.

ASSESSMENT:  Just tasting this step by step, ooh baby,  gonna get to you whisky, step by step.  Many layers and much depth to this one.

Group rated #3 whisky tasted (I rated this #4 , only because the potentate at KWM didn’t go with my choice of sample when choosing the cask and I happen to be very petty).

 

 

#5      1977 - July , 2010       Cask # 1033   Pedro Ximinez Sherry Finish  52.2 % ABV Bottle # 185 of 331

NOSE:  Oranges and cherries.  Rich coffee and cigar notes.

TASTE:  Major dill.  Toffee, raisins, dark fruits and nutty.

FINISH:  Medium.  Lingering and sweet.

ASSESSMENT:  You’re all I ever wanted, you’re all I ever needed, yeah!  Excellent sherry cask.  Wow, this one really shows just how good a sherry finish BenRiach can be.

 

 

#6      1975 - August , 2007       Cask # 4451   Port Pipe  53.7  % ABV Bottle # 479 of 707

NOSE:  Big citrus.  Grapefruit, cherries and little smoke.

TASTE:  At odds with the nose, very unbalanced.  Pepper, thick overpowering clove sweet.

FINISH:  Medium and fades fast (not fast enough).

ASSESSMENT:  Ok, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want, I want balance in a whisky.

 

 

#7       1984 - July , 2010       Cask # 4052   Tawny Port Finish – Peated  51.7 % ABV Bottle # 116 of 265

NOSE:  Stewed fruits.  Assertive peat but pleasant.  Some mint.  Little musty.

TASTE:  Peat & Pepper.  Floral, honey and coffee.

FINISH:  Long and a bit drying.

ASSESSMENT:  Don’t go chasing finishes.  Please stick to the basics and the barrels that you’re used to.

 

 

#8       15 Year old – Solstice       Heavily Peated & Finished in Tawny Port Pipes  50 % ABV

NOSE:  Bam…..cherry jam.  Intense non-medicinal peat.  Spicy aroma found only in a Bolivar cigar.  Little farmy.

TASTE:  Prevailing peat.  Cloves, raisin and figs.  Vanilla in the back.

FINISH:  Long and chewy.  Not your mother’s BenRiach.  Balanced.  Depends if like a Port Peat drink, then yes, if not don’t walk away, run away!

ASSESSMENT:  With the world in love with peat, I know that it’s time for a change, but when that change comes will you still feel the same about Benriach.

 

- Maltmonster

 

 

 Posted by at 12:43 pm

  One Response to “BenRiach Range Tasting – BFB”

  1. At least you don’t hold a grudge… “Group rated #3 whisky tasted (I rated this #4 , only because the potentate at KWM didn’t go with my choice of sample when choosing the cask and I happen to be very petty).”

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