Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon first fill
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: Brown Forman
Average price: € 145.00
Official website: www.benriachdistillery.com
Let’s go back to the old core range of the Mount Riach distillery with what, at the time, was the highest ageing. Today, with the total restyling of the bottlings, the oldest ones are the twenty-one, twenty-five and thirty years old, so in fact it’s a version that is no longer produced but is still widely available. Before disappearing, it had changed its design to a dark label.
First-fill ex-Bourbon casks, with an alcohol content slightly higher than the minimum and, like the other bottlings, with added colouring and chillfiltration: up to this point, this distillery has left me rather cold, perhaps I will change my mind with this 20-year-old.
The nose is an explosion of wood spices, very intense, with nutmeg, cinnamon and resin tingling the nose thanks also to a light dusting of ginger. A very ‘dark’ nose reminiscent of molasses, with dried apricots and prunes, sultanas, baked apple, toasted caramel, cloves, vanilla. Chocolate and leather. The barrels came down hard on it, resulting in a somewhat heavy but nevertheless pleasant taste.
In the mouth it has a good body, quite full, with the spices still acting as a covering hat along with a rich sprinkling of paprika. Red and cooked fruits dominate the palate, accompanied by candied orange, chocolate, caramel, liquorice root and wood wax. There is a bitter thread that ties the flavours together, offsetting the decadent tendency of the whisky and bringing it back into the realm of good elegance. Slight roasting in the background.
The finish isn’t very long, of pepper and cloves with chocolate, baked apple, caramel, tobacco and a slight smoky note.
It just lacks that extra sparkle that perhaps would have been given by a higher alcohol content, but it still is a very pleasant and elegant dram, playing on the edge of excess but finding its own way thanks to the (precarious) balance of its tones.