Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

Friday, October 14, 2022

The GlenDronach Grandeur Batch 11 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


One of my favorite ways to age whisky is in Pedro Ximénez casks. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with using virgin oak, former Bourbon barrels, wine, or other kinds of sherry. There is, however, something magical about how that PX sherry imparts fruity goodness on the liquid sunshine held within.

 

Unfortunately, the mere presence of a PX cask doesn’t translate to great whisky. You need to start with good distillate, hand-selected cooperage, and a master blender who knows what they are doing. Who is a reliable candidate to fit that bill?  The GlenDronach.

 

If you’ve never experienced a whiskey from The GlenDronach, you’ll want to remedy that situation. Located in the Highlands region, it was founded in 1826 and is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in all of Scotland. Its ownership changed hands several times until Allied Distillers mothballed it in 1996. Six years later, it reversed its decision and returned to full production. In 2005, Chivas Brothers took the helm for three years until, in 2008, The BenRiach Distillery Company, Ltd. purchased it, only to sell itself to Brown-Forman in 2016. And that’s when Dr. Rachel Barrie, it's Master Blender, unleashed her magic.

 

Today I’m exploring Grandeur Batch 11, a single malt Scotch that sat in both PX and Oloroso sherry casks for a whopping 28 years.

 

“The GlenDronach Grandeur is an unparalleled range of the finest aromas and character from masterful Spanish oak sherry cask maturation. A Single Malt of elegant finesse, this expression offers a symphony of sherry aromatics interwoven with dark manuka honey, roasted almond, and walnut. It is intense and full-bodied, as is the signature of The GlenDronach, with a crescendo of black cherry and espresso adorning each mouthful.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender

 

I don’t have too many opportunities to experience whiskies approaching three decades, and, on top of that, one that weighs in at a healthy 48.9% ABV (97.8°). As you can well imagine, a bottle like that commands an eyebrow-raising price tag. In the case of Grandeur Batch 11, it is $800.00.

 

Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I thank The GlenDronach for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: This elderly Scotch offered a rusty appearance and a heavy rim that stuck like glue. Thick tears were released, but for whatever reason, the ring remained.

 

Nose: As the whisky poured into my glass, a fruity aroma of plum, dark cherry, raisin, and black currant was already tickling my nostrils. A closer examination provided roasted almond, cocoa, and leather. Cherry and honey tangoed across my tongue when I inhaled the vapor through my mouth.

 

Palate:  I found the texture to be thin and oily, while the front of my palate encountered a punch of black cherry, black currant, and raisin. When I say punch, I mean it; there was an impact on my tongue. Midway through, I tasted leather, dark chocolate, and almond, while the back featured flavors of black pepper, espresso, and cigar.

 

Finish:  Long and warming, the finish was peppery, with plum, dark chocolate, cigar, and espresso. I felt it drank a bit above its stated proof.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I loved this Scotch. It was yet another example of Dr. Barrie’s immense talent. The nose, the palate, the finish; each told me this was a luxurious whisky. All things being equal, this would capture my Bottle rating. The elephant in the room is the price:  $800 is beyond my and many others' means. But that shouldn’t discount your chance at a dram of Grandeur Batch 11 if you can find it at a good whisky Bar. Cheers!

 

 

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The BenRiach 2022 Malting Season and Smoke Season Single Malt Scotch Reviews and Tasting Notes

 



Last year, I reviewed Malting Season and Smoke Season from the storied BenRiach Distillery. Led by Dr. Rachel Barrie, the distillery introduced these two whiskies in 2021. Well, here we are in 2022, and it is time for this year’s releases.

 

Both pay homage to a time when The BenRiach was mothballed. While no distillation occurred, its malting floor remained active, providing peated malt to other distilleries. Today, there are only seven floor-malting distilleries left in Scotland, one of those few is still The BenRiach.

 

“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with Benriach. Meanwhile Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery’s calendar, and these annual releases give both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet and smoky character of our Speyside single malt. At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak, barley and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender

 

Today I’ll review these whiskies together, whereas last year, they were done separately. And, before I do that, I must thank The BenRiach for providing me samples in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Let’s start the #DrinkCurious process with Malting Season first.

 

Malting Season

 


 

For one month each year, the crew at The BenRiach spread barley on its malting floor, oversee it while turning it by hand, and pick the “perfect” time to move it to the kiln to dry and stop the germination process.

 

Malting Season is distilled from 100% malted Concerto barley and aged in virgin American oak and ex-Bourbon casks. It carries no age statement, and a 48.9% ABV (96.8°) 700ml bottle has a suggested retail price of $159.99.

 

Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass displayed a bright golden liquid. It left a fragile rim that shed thick, slow tears.

 

Nose: Sweet and fruity, Malting Season offered an aroma of pineapple, citrus, apple, and malt. Peaches and cream rolled across my tongue when I drew that air into my mouth.

 

Palate: Malting Season’s texture was silky and coated the inside of my mouth easily. The front of my palate discovered raw honey, vanilla, and apple. I tasted orange citrus, peel, and nutmeg as it moved to my mid-palate. The back gave a sensation of toasted oak, clove, and leather.

 

Finish:  I wondered where the peaches and cream went, and the answer was in the finish. Leather, nutmeg, and orange peel joined the show. The experience lasted for a couple of minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There’s a lot of value with Malting Season when you consider how bold the flavors are and compound that with that silky mouthfeel. There’s nothing not to like about Malting Season, although, just like last year, I would love to see this one priced about $20 or so less. Regardless, experiences are worth paying for, and I’m thrilled to crown it with my Bottle rating.

 

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

 

Smoke Season

 


 

Smoke Season celebrates summertime when The BenRiach runs peated malt through its stills, as the rest of the year, all of the distillate is unpeated. While peated Scotch isn’t unheard of in the Speyside region, it is uncommon.

 

This whisky is intensely peated, batch distilled, and aged in a combination of first-fill Bourbon casks and heavily-charred and lightly toasted virgin American oak barrels. It weighs in at 52.8% ABV (105.6°), carries no age statement, and the suggested retail price is $79.99 for a 750ml bottle. Yes, that’s slightly larger than Malting Season.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Smoke Season was a few shades darker than Malting Season. A microthin rim left wide legs and sticky droplets behind.

 

Nose: An enticing aroma of barbecue smoke wafted from the glass. There was also a marine quality to it, which took me aback. Pineapple, pear, and vanilla were present. The pineapple remained as I pulled the vapor into my mouth. 

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was creamy, and there was an explosion of peat that would put many Islay malts to shame. Burnt ends, caramel, and vanilla on the front of my palate made me hungry. The middle featured cinnamon, apple, and charred oak. On the back, I tasted more charred oak, grilled pineapple, and orange peel.

 

Finish:  A medium-long finish consisted of orange peel, vanilla, pineapple, and charred oak, which carried all the way through.  

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’m a big fan of Islay Scotches, and Smoke Season can compete effortlessly with several (and win). There’s no way on the planet I would guess this was a Speyside. After jotting down my tasting notes, I read my review to see how close this year’s matched up. While the proof was the same each year, I believe this year’s release trumps the inaugural. The $20.00 I wanted from Malting Season I would happily add to Smoke Season. This one steals my Bottle rating. Cheers!

 

 

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Friday, September 30, 2022

Deanston 12 Highland Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


I started my whisky journey with Scotch. My attention has waxed and waned, but I’ve never given up on it. I’ve fallen in love with whiskies from each of the five regions. I’ve come to appreciate blends, single grains, and single malts.

 

My attention today is directed to the Highland region. In particular, Deanston.  Currently owned by Distell International, this distillery was founded in 1965 in Doune on the River Teith in a former cotton mill. That mill was vital to the local economy as it was the major employer, and as such, the community welcomed the distillery with open arms.

 

Its master blender is Juliann Fernandez, and the master distiller is Brennan McCarron. It uses an open mash tun and has a long, 100-hour fermentation cycle. Deanston uses only locally sourced ingredients in its whisky. It ages everything in a vaulted-ceiling warehouse.

 

But wait, there’s more! Deanston is the only self-sustaining distillery in Scotland.

 

“The mighty River Teith is so much more than a water source. It is so powerful, it can fuel a distillery. The old cotton mill built a lade and installed one of the biggest waterwheels in Europe to harness its power. Then came electrical turbines in the 40s. Fast forward to today and we’re still using turbines to generate electricity from the river. In fact, we generate enough energy to power the distillery, our offices, The Coffee Bothy, the Visitor Centre, and we still have approximately 75% remaining to sell back to the National Grid.” – Deanston

 

Deanston 12 Highland Single Malt is one of its core expressions. It is aged in former Bourbon barrels, is non-chill filtered, and naturally colored. A 750ml bottle is packaged at 46.3% ABV (92.6°), and you can expect to pay about $50.00 for it.

 

I snagged a 50ml taster at some random liquor store; let’s see if a full 750ml is worth picking up, shall we?  Time to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Deanston 12 was the color of bright gold. It made an ultra-thin rim that formed sticky droplets that never really went anywhere.

 

Nose:  Do you like the smell of fruit? I found notes of citrus, pear, and pineapple. Beneath those, aromas of vanilla and smoky oak were evident. When I took the air into my mouth, a wave of pineapple rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  A buttery mouthfeel with a medium body led to the tastes of honey, crisp apple, chocolate, and vanilla on the front. As it moved to the middle, the first instance of oak came through, which was joined by cocoa and malt. As it transitioned to the back, the malt continued, the oak became dry, and there were also black pepper and cinnamon spice.

 

Finish:  Short-to-medium in length, black pepper, cocoa powder, and dry, smoky oak left my hard palate tingly.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I realize this is only a $50.00 single malt, and since it has a relatively high proof and is a dozen years old, so price-wise, it seems like a bargain. The nose was beautiful, and the palate disjointed in places.  I had high hopes for Deanston 12; the best I can suggest is trying this one at a Bar or a friend’s house before committing to a purchase. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Monday, August 15, 2022

Harleston Green Blended Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


The opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf is one I take seriously. When I first became a fan of whisky, I was anything but wealthy (I’m still not). I had no idea what I was doing, just that I didn’t want to spend gobs of money on something that was going to be questionable. I invested in whiskies that were generally under $30.00. As my palate matured, I never left my quest to find gems that many would overlook due to price.

 

Something else I always appreciate is transparency. That’s becoming more common for American whiskeys, but things are less so outside the country. Imagine my shock when a bottle of Harleston Green blended Scotch whisky showed up, and while inspecting the bottle, I saw “Distilled and Bottled by Loch Lomond Distillery” on the back label.

 

Harleston Green isn’t a green whisky (thank goodness!). The origin of Harleston Green is it was the first golf course established in America.

 

“In 1786, a group of Scottish merchants absconded with two of European high society’s most treasured pleasures, golf and Scotch, and brought them together at Harleston Green in Charleston, South Carolina for all people to enjoy. We’d nominate those merchants for sainthood if it didn’t risk getting in the way of their drinking and carousing.” – Harleston Green

 

Composed of three, four, and five-year-old whiskies from the Highland, Lowland, Speyside, and Campbelltown regions, Harleston Green is bottled at 40% ABV (90°) and is quite affordable at $24.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Some of you may find it hard to swallow the notion that a three-year Scotch at this pricepoint will be even remotely good. The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get at it. But, before I do, I must thank Harleston Green for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, when poured neat, this Scotch was the color of honey. It formed a thicker rim, something not surprising for a low-proofed whisky, and wild, long legs that crashed back to the pool.

 

Nose: A puff of smoke was the first thing I smelled. Beneath that were dried apricot, peach, honey, nut, and English toffee. Vanilla was hidden underneath. When I drew that air into my mouth, honey rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  A creamy, medium-bodied texture introduced itself, offering honey, vanilla, and citrus on the front of my palate. Midway through, I tasted nutmeg, green peppercorn, and apple, while the back featured smoke, cinnamon, and roasted almond.

 

Finish:  The smoke carried all the way through. I need to make it clear that it was far from overpowering. It didn’t taste like peat. It didn’t dry my mouth. It was merely a flavor. Apple strudel and almond hung around, making for a surprisingly long finish.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The first thing I’ll say is I’ve shared this Scotch with a few friends, one of whom is a well-known distiller. The consensus was it was pretty damned good, especially for a young whisky. I was well-blended, and while there is a smoky quality to it, it would not turn off those who dislike peat (or who are newbies).  Harleston Green is a great Scotch to explore if you’re new and curious. Harleston Green is a tasty gem for those who are more experienced. I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy this one, as such it earns its Bottle rating. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Singleton Game of Thrones House Tully Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


If you’re into Scotch and you’re into Game of Thrones, then you’re probably aware of the Diageo and HBO collaboration to produce a line of whiskies to celebrate the show. And, if you’re not, well, there are eight single malts plus two blends from Johnnie Walker. They were released two years ago, but you can still find them every so often on store shelves.  There are, of course, folks who collect them to have the whole set.

 

One of the single malts came from Glendullan under its exclusive brand, The Singleton.  Glendullan is located in the Speyside region and was founded in 1897 by William Williams & Son. In 1972, a second distillery was built immediately adjacent, operations were moved shortly after that, and the original shuttered. The distillery has changed hands many times before finding itself under the Diageo umbrella. And, while you’ve likely not heard of Glendullan, it is the second-largest Scotch distillery in the colossal corporation! Similar to many big distilleries, Glendullan is a workhorse whose majority distillate is used for blends.

 

As stated earlier, The Singleton is the only brand, and all of the single malt releases are destined for North American markets. The whiskies are aged exclusively in former Bourbon barrels. Any single malts are aged on-premises, and any barrels used for blends are shipped elsewhere for aging. It is an interesting way to do things, but it works for Diageo.

 

The Singleton’s edition of the GOT collection is called House Tully. It carries no age statement; it is chill-filtered, contains e150a caramel coloring, and then bottled at 40% ABV (80°). It is pretty affordable at between $30.00 and $35.00. I picked mine up for just under $30.00 at a liquor store in Minnesota.

 

Did I do well with my purchase? The only way to find out is to crack the bottle and #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, House Tully was a deep bronze, which is irrelevant due to the e150a caramel coloring. It formed a medium-to-heavy rim that lent to fat, watery legs.

 

Nose:  The aroma of malt was aggressive. Once I was able to get past that, I smelled banana, honey, apple, and nutmeg. As I drew the vapor into my mouth, it seemed grassy.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was relatively thin and never gained weight, remaining watery throughout the tasting experience. Grass, green apple, and apricot started things off, then moved to banana pudding and citrus (an unusual combination), with honey, caramel, and char on the back.  

 

Finish:  The duration was short and medium and consisted of charred oak, banana, and clove. There was no astringent quality.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  House Tully turns out to be an unremarkable whisky. Granted, it is only a $30.00 to $35.00 bottle, but I’ve also had some wonderful Scotches at that price. It isn’t bad; it is just forgettable. Is it proofed down too much? Probably. Did it need more time in oak? Again, probably.

 

I catch a lot of flak whenever I say this about a whisky, but this would be a good beginner’s single malt. There’s nothing in it that would be a turn-off. And, due to the price, the fear of buying something overpowering or rough makes it an easy choice.

 

Saying all of that, it is still somewhat boring, and I’m not a novice. I would not repurchase this one, but I don’t believe it deserves a Bust.  As such, my rating is a Bar. Try this one first, especially if you’re new to Scotch. It is a good starting point.  Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 



Some people are not fans of peated whiskies. I’ve been there myself. It took me years to wander into the land of smoke after I was introduced far too early to Lagavulin 16 as an entry point. But, once I was ready, I did things slowly – the right way – and fell in love with smoky peat.

 

I’m at the point where I see a peated whisky I’ve never tried, and it cuts to the front of the line of everything else I’ve queued. One such whisky is Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang single malt Scotch.

 

Tomintoul calls itself The Gentle Dram. It is a Speyside distillery founded in 1964 and is located on The Ballantruan Spring which runs through the Glenlivet Estate. The name comes from the highest village of the Scottish Highlands. Like most Speyside distilleries, Tomintoul is known for unpeated whisky. However, twice a year, it uses peated malt. It is owned by Angus Dundee.

 

“Pure ingredients and the natural environment add to smooth and mellow character of our award-winning Tomintoul Speyside Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, “the gentle dram”.

Tomintoul “With A Peaty Tang” has been made with peated malt barley to give it a deep smoky flavour. This makes “Peaty Tang” very unusual, most distilleries in the Speyside region do not use peat.” – Tomintoul Distillery

 

With a Peaty Tang is a marriage of peated whisky that’s been aged between four and five years with unpeated whisky aged eight. Ex-Bourbon casks were used for both. This is a fairly new whisky for this young distillery – it was introduced in 2017.

 

Despite knowing the ages, it carries no age statement. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can expect to pay about $41.99 for a 750ml package. I found a 50ml taster for a couple of bucks.

 

How’s this one fare? The only way to find out, of course, is to #DrinkCurious. Let’s do this!

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch looked the color of light gold. A thicker rim created slow, sticky droplets. I couldn’t really call them legs.

 

Nose:  I could smell the peat the second I cracked the bottle. I let this one sit for almost 20 minutes as campfire smoke filled the room. Once I determined it rested enough, I brought the glass to my face, which usually results in an ability to get through the peat (because at that point I’m used to it). Nope. Campfire smoke was still dominating. Eventually, my olfactory sense cut through it and found citrus, apple, honey, and caramel. I then inhaled through my lips and smoky vanilla rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thin and airy and, despite the alcohol content, warming. The front featured heavy peat, brine, and malted barley. The middle became earthy and fruity with mushroom, pear, and vanilla. The back got super spicy with clove, black pepper and a big blast of burnt oak.

 

Finish:  Medium and dry, barrel char, clove, dry oak, and vanilla stayed for the encore. And then, without warning, a wave of astringent.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Tomintoul With a Peaty Tang was similar to a low-end Islay, except with less complexity. I can usually find something nice in those Islay whiskies, I struggled with this Speyside. I initially didn’t find the Band-Aid flavor until after my fourth sip, then couldn’t get it out of my mouth. Some astringent is fine. Bold astringent is not (but it does have its fans). There was nothing gentle about this dram. I am willing to try other things from Tomintoul. I would never drink its With a Peaty Tang again. This takes a Bust. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The GlenAllachie 12-Year Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


The GlenAllachie (pronounced Glen-Alla-Key) is a relatively new Speyside distillery that's seen quite a bit of ownership changes in its short 55 years. Founded in 1967, its been open, closed, mothballed, reopened, used for strictly blends for Chivas Bros., then sold in 2017 to its current owners, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company.

 

The GDC completely revamped things with a plan to release whiskies bottled at no less than 46% ABV and are both naturally colored and non-chill filtered. It also allows 160 hours of fermentation time, claiming it gives them additional time to study what's in the tank. The campus is home to 16 warehouses holding 50,000 barrels of whisky!

  

Today I’m pouring GlenAllachie 12-Year, a single malt Scotch aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, along with first- and second-fill Bourbon barrels and virgin American oak casks. Packaged at 46% ABV (92°), the average retail price for a 750ml bottle is $65.00. 

 

“[W]e would like to introduce the most important release in the history of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company; GlenAllachie 12-year-old, the heart of our range, a landmark bottling. Our best casks selected and bottled under the careful eye of our Master Distiller Billy Walker.” – The GlenAllachie

 

Before I get to my tasting notes, I’d like to thank Impex Beverage for providing a sample of this whisky in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, GlenAllachie 12-Year appeared as dark mahogany. It created a thicker rim which formed fat, sticky legs.

 

Nose: From across the room, I could smell the sherry notes.  Raisin, green grape, fig, cherry, and dried apricot were accompanied by dark chocolate and oak. When I pulled the air past my lips, it was a big blast of banana pudding.

 

Palate:  The texture of molasses crawled across my tongue and didn’t go away. Dark chocolate, fig, and green grape were on the front, with raisin, clove, and leather on the middle. I found ginger, oak, and French vanilla on the back.

 

Finish:  The medium-to-long finish consisted of Mole Coloradito, ginger, clove, tobacco leaf, and oak.  

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is certainly reasonably priced for a 46% ABV 12-year Scotch. The nose was beautiful, the palate flavorful, and the finish; well, if I go to a Mexican restaurant and there’s a mole sauce option, I’m all over it. The GlenAllachie 12 is just lovely all around and deserves my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!

 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.

 


 

Friday, June 17, 2022

The BenRiach Cask Edition Single Cask Scotch Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


Dr. Rachel Barrie is a brilliant Master Blender. She holds that title at three different Brown-Forman distilleries: The GlenDronach, Glenglassaugh, and BenRiach. She is the first female Master Blender to earn an honorary doctorate; she is an inductee of Whisky Magazine’s “Hall of Fame.” In September 2020, she was named a Keeper of the Quaich.

 

This month, BenRiach released three of its first-ever single cask, single malt Scotch offerings exclusive to the US market. It is called The BenRiach Cask Edition.

 

“Our ‘sleeping beauties’, as we often call these casks, continue to be sourced from all over the world, enabling us to creatively explore the full flavor possibilities of Speyside Single Malt. Each cask will tell its own story of a journey of flavor where the spirit is married with oak, over years and through the seasons, to really create a unique moment in time never to be repeated again.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie

 

Today I have an opportunity, thanks to BenRiach, to #DrinkCurious and write a no-strings-attached, honest review of all three. They’re all naturally colored, non-chill filtered, and each has a very different cooperage.

 

Something new and different is the packaging. We’re used to 750ml bottles in the United States. With updated regulations, 700ml is now allowable for our market.

 

Let’s get to the first pour!

 

Cask #3812 – 12 Years



 

Cask #3812 was distilled in 2009 and spent a dozen years in a former Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon. The yield was 642 bottles at its 58.2% cask strength (116.4°). You can expect to pay about $100 on one of 642 - 700ml bottles, which is limited in availability to CA, KY, OR, WA, GA, MA, and NY.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask #3812 appeared coppery and created a thin rim. Medium-weighted legs raced back to the pool.

 

Nose: A fragrance of apricot and raisin jumped from the glass while it was still resting on the table. Upon closer inspection, I found chocolate, caramel, and orange peel. The orange peel turned candied as I took that air into my mouth.

 

Palate: A silky, full-bodied texture greeted my tongue, captivating my interest. The front of my palate encountered milk chocolate, butterscotch, and honey, while the middle featured lemon and orange zest combined with raisin. On the back, I tasted leather, oak, and nuts.

 

Finish: The long-lasting finish kept leather, tobacco, dark chocolate, and oak in my mouth and throat.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask #3812 is a sip-and-smile whisky. That’s about the best description I can offer. Yeah, it is a 12-year with a $100 asking price. But, it is cask strength, yet doesn’t drink at that proof. It is a single barrel, (obviously) limited-edition Scotch. And, dammit, it is delicious. I’d pay $100 all day long for this; I just wish it was anywhere near my market. It is a Bottle rating for sure!

 

◊◊◊◊◊

 

Cask #10297 – 23 Years



 

Cask #10297 delves into that much more rare territory, distilled back in 1997 and spent 23 years in a vintage Marsala wine cask. The yield was only 264 bottles spread around AZ, CO, DC, DE, FL, IL, MD, MN, NV, PA, SC, and WI. A 55.4% ABV (110.8°) – 700ml package will set you back about $330.00.

 

Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass showed this Scotch’s orange-amber appearance. A thinner rim released medium-thick, fast legs.

 

Nose: Floral notes were joined by fruits such as peach, cherry, and citrus. They were blended together with thick, dense vanilla. Inhaling through my mouth caused orange and vanilla to dance across my tongue.  

 

Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Vanilla, strawberry, and cherry started things off, with orange zest and honey at mid-palate. The back consisted of dark chocolate, oak, and clove.

 

Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish featured flavors of cherry, strawberry, oak, and clove.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask #10297 was elegant and unique. The only thing I could complain about the tasting experience was that short finish. I kept sipping more as I wanted to retain those flavors in my mouth; they never stuck. The question becomes, would I pay $330.00 for this whisky? I’m not convinced. But, you should absolutely try this at a Bar if you can find it.

 

◊◊◊◊◊

 

Cask #15058 – 24 Years



 

Finally, there’s Cask #15058. This single malt Scotch was distilled in 1997 and slept 24 years in an Oloroso puncheon. It weighs in at 55.4% (110.8°), and the yield was a surprising 641 – 700ml bottles. Availability is extremely limited to GA, MA, NY, and unnamed metropolitan areas around the country. If you see one, expect to shell out $388.00 for it.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared as liquid caramel. Try as I might, I could not get a rim to form. It just kept collapsing into long, wavy tears.

 

Nose:  I started craving dessert when my olfactory sense ran into vanilla, caramel, cinnamon apple, Nutella, and oak. Cinnamon and vanilla tangoed in my mouth as I pulled the vapor inside.

 

Palate:  A slick, oily mouthfeel ponied up orange marmalade, apricot, and cinnamon apple on the front, with chocolate, hazelnut, and black currant at the middle. The back featured leather, tobacco, and caramel.

 

Finish:  The leather became very dry on the finish. Tobacco leaf, raisin, and oak were about to complete it when a non-peaty, smoky kiss closed things out.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Have you ever dreamt of sipping on a fine Scotch in your private study? Well, Cask #15058 fits that bill perfectly. It is a sultry, sophisticated pour that commands your full attention. Sure, it is a $380.00 investment, but you’ll bite the bullet and prove how smart you were to grab a Bottle.  

 

Final Thoughts:  It was so fun to try all three of these single cask Scotches. The 12-year is my favorite, partially because I’m a sucker for an excellent PX-cask whisky, and it is a heck of a value to boot. Next was the 24-year. It is, simply put, an experience. The third was the 23-year. It was a lovely pour; I couldn’t justify its outlay.




 

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.