Benriach Single Cask Batch 15

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I’ve said before that Benriach is often referred to as ‘The Lab’ among company employees due to the varied production of spirit at the site, and the fact that almost every cask type can be found should you be lucky enough to go wandering in the warehouses. Nowhere is this more profound than in this year’s single cask releases. Six peated whiskies and 11 unpeated whiskies, and just look at the array of cask types on show:

Benriach 2008, 9yo, Cask #2048, Peated, Port pipe
Benriach 2007, 10yo, Cask #3071, Peated, Oloroso Sherry butt
Benriach 2007, 10yo, Cask #3236, Oloroso Sherry butt
Benriach 2007, 10yo, Cask #7722, Peated, Virgin Oak hogshead
Benriach 2007, 10yo, Cask #8731, Muscatel hogshead
Benriach 2007, 10yo, Cask #8738, Moscatel hogshead
Benriach 2008, 10yo, Cask #5807, Sauternes barrique
Benriach 2006, 11yo, Cask #1855, Sauternes barrique
Benriach 2006, 11yo, Cask #2406, Port pipe
Benriach 2007, 11yo, Cask #7610, Peated, Rum barrel
Benriach 2005, 12yo, Cask #2682, Peated, Port pipe
Benriach 2005, 12yo, Cask #5014, Oloroso Sherry butt
Benriach 1997, 20yo, Cask #4437, Marsala hogshead
Benriach 1997, 20yo, Cask #7859, Virgin Oak hogshead
Benriach 1995, 22yo, Cask #7383, Peated, Oloroso Sherry butt
Benriach 1992, 25yo, Cask #979, Port hogshead
Benriach 1991, 26yo, Cask #6898, Burgundy barrique

Commenting on the launch of these single cask releases, Benriach Master Blender Rachel Barrie, said: “Batch 15 provides a rare opportunity to explore the many facets of Benriach maturation in one batch, something us whisky makers are lucky to do every day. From the sweet side of Marsala wood to the exotic fruity side of Rum and the barbecued smokiness of charred American Virgin Oak, there is a cask to suit every whisky lover’s palate. Now’s the time to explore, take your pick and find the cask you most enjoy!”

Let’s take a look at a handful of these casks…

Benriach 2008 10yo
Sauternes Barrique
Cask No 5807
59.7% ABV

Nose: Barley water, honey on cornflakes, fresh bread, a little malty, Belgian waffles, toffee, golden syrup, Werther’s Originals and dusty lemons.

Palate: Ginger and lemon zest to begin, then raw cereal notes, oaky spices, vanilla pods, coconut flakes, toasted almonds, apricot pastries and some sawdust.

Finish: Citrusy zing, with some honey and wood shavings.

Benriach 2007 10yo
Moscatel Hogshead
Cask No 8737
58.9% ABV

Nose: Almond paste, icing sugar, peach cobbler, orange blossom, breakfast cereals, poached apples and praline.

Palate: Charred pineapple, banana, grapefruit, gingersnap biscuits, custard creams, butterscotch, muscovado and loads of honey.

Finish: Lime peel, vanilla cream and some light oak.

Benriach 2005 12yo
Peated, Port Pipe
Cask No 2682
53.9% ABV

Nose: Cask char, BBQ embers, and some ashy smoke. Redcurrants, clove, soy sauce, chocolate, some dusty oak, and a sweet earthiness.

Palate: Big peat notes to begin, bonfire smoke, walnuts, and toasted chestnuts. There’s a slight herbal side to it too – heather, moss and some nettles. Then there’s rich, dark fruits and some cinnamon.

Finish: Lingering peat smoke, dried fruits and some cask stave.

Benriach 1997 20yo
Marsala Hogshead
Cask No 4437
54.8% ABV

Nose: Very tropical! Mango, lychee, pear, papaya and melon. A very light syrupy note too – tinned peaches? A pick ‘n’ mix confectionary sweetness, orange oils and some lemon posset round things off.

Palate: Tropical and citrusy to begin with; pineapple, kiwi, grapefruit, glazed fruit pastries, lemon sorbet, vanilla icing, peaches in cream, fresh hay and some slightly floral notes.

Finish: Faintly perfumed, with some lemon and a light oakiness.

Benriach 1992 25yo
Port Hogshead
Cask No 979
53.9% ABV

Nose: Black forest fruits – blackcurrant, blackberry, Morello cherries, sultana cake – then walnuts, espresso, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and faint molasses. There’s some lighter things too – keylime pie and campino sweets lift things.

Palate: Rich and earthy; classic notes of rum soaked raisins, musvocado, malt loaf, black tea, tobacco leaf, plum jam, dates and treacle.

Finish: Refined woody spices, a musky earthiness, old oak and dried fruits.

Overall: Well, what a variety. When a distillery releases a clutch of single casks, there’s temptation for the distillery to stick to tried and tested casks, and so the tasting is reduced to an exercise in spirit progression over time. Not here. Peated spirit, unpeated spirit, moscatel casks, port casks, marsala casks, sauternes casks… that was an absolute pleasure. From the five single casks above, the 2005 peated port pipe is probably my favourite, but there’s something in here for everyone.

 

 

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