Benriach Single Cask Batch 16

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It’s the height of summer, therefore it’s that time of year when Benriach release an annual batch of single cask whiskies. Last year was impressive, with a mix of peated unpeated whiskies in the seventeen-strong range, along with all sort of cask types. This year, the brand have launched twelve casks available exclusively in Europe and another dozen casks which are available only in Asia Pacific… and just look at the cask types and ages on offer:

Available in Europe:

Benriach 2012, 7yo, Cask #7825, Virgin Oak cask
Benriach 2009, 9yo, Cask #6095, Virgin Oak cask
Benriach 2008, 10yo, Cask #3085, Oloroso Sherry cask
Benriach 2007, 11yo, Cask #3237, Oloroso Sherry cask
Benriach 2008, 11yo, Cask #2506, Bourbon cask
Benriach 2007, 12yo, Cask #7611, Rum cask
Benriach 2005, 13yo, Cask #3435, Rum cask
Benriach 2005, 14yo, Cask #3791, Port cask
Benriach 1994, 24yo, Cask #6500, Marsala cask
Benriach 1993, 25yo, Cask #7881, Rioja Wine cask
Benriach 1991, 27yo, Cask #1865, Rum cask
Benriach 1985, 33yo, Cask #7214, Virgin Oak cask

Available in Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Canada:

Benriach 2009, 10yo, Cask #1647, Madeira cask
Benriach 2008, 10yo, Cask #7865, Adoro Wine cask
Benriach 2006, 12yo, Cask #1853, Sauternes Wine cask
Benriach 2005, 13yo, Cask #6704, Port cask
Benriach 2005, 13yo, Cask #6924, Pedro Ximénez Sherry cask
Benriach 1997, 21yo, Cask #4438, Marsala cask
Benriach 1997, 21yo, Cask #7858, Virgin Oak cask
Benriach 1995, 23yo, Cask #7385, Oloroso Sherry cask
Benriach 1994, 24yo, Cask #7379, Bourbon cask
Benriach 1993, 25yo, Cask #7944, Claret Wine cask
Benriach 1991, 27yo, Cask #1850, Madeira cask
Benriach 1988, 30yo, Cask #4422, Tokaji Wine cask

Oft.

Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie said: “There is no better insight into our intriguing palette of flavour than Benriach Cask Bottling Batch 16. Featuring 24 different casks, this release 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. Batch 16 offers the sweet side of Sicilian Marsala wood, smoked plum of the Rioja cask and a dark manuka honey palate of the 30 year old Tokaji; there is a journey and a story behind each cask bottling to be enjoyed by whisky explorers.”

Today, I’ll be sampling three expressions from the European offering of single casks; a 25yo Rioja cask, a 14yo Port cask and a 9yo Virgin oak. Here goes.

Benriach 2009 9yo
Virgin Oak Cask
Cask No 6095
322 bottles
58.5% ABV
£70 RRP

Nose: White pepper, vanilla custard, lemon peel, dried ginger, caramel wafers, Wethers Originals and freshly sawn oak.

Palate: Toasted oak, cinnamon, and crushed peppercorns. Then honeycomb, Sticky Toffee Pudding and some sawdust.

Finish: More toffee and honey with a gingery spice.

Benriach 2005 14yo
Port Cask
Cask No 3791
272 bottles
55.3% ABV
£110 RRP

Nose: Oooohh… this port cask was filled with peated spirit – we have smoked cherries, singed heather and an earthy smokiness. Some apricot, orange marmalade, toasted raisins and chocolate too.

Palate: More of that earthy smoke, with hot cross buns, blackcurrant, cloves, a little chili spice, orange oils and some antique wood.

Finish: Sticky dried fruits, with sweet black tea and aromatic smoke.

Benriach 1993 25yo
Rioja Wine Cask
Cask No 7881
231 bottles
54.3% ABV
£250 RRP

Nose: A touch mentholic to begin, then glazed walnuts, dates, hazelnut parfait, Black Forest Gateaux, Morello cherries, plum jam and a hint of old oak.

Palate: Lots of poached orchard fruits to begin, then more cherries, apricot, blackberries, nutmeg and spiced chutney. Mahogany too.

Finish: Firm oak, and lots of cinnamon and clove.

Overall: As you’d expect from Brown-Forman’s ‘Laboratory’, these are three very different single cask whiskies and are likely representative of the range as a whole. I’ve got to admit, I was quite concerned by the 9 year old Virgin Oak cask – nine years in Virgin Oak is a bloody long time, but the wood hasn’t completely dominated and there’s a lovely buttery/toffee/caramel note which pervades. The peated Port cask is a right treat, and hits the spot for me out of this trio. Smoke, fruit, oak, and spice combine beautifully, and with great depth given the cask strength oomph. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rioja cask too, as red wine finished whiskies (let alone fully matured ones like this) can often be quite cloying, flabby, and disjointed. Thankfully, this whisky is none of these, and provides a thoroughly satisfying dram. Later in the week I’ll review a trio of whiskies from the latest single cask range from Benriach’s sister distillery, Glendronach. I’m looking forward to that just as much as this.

 

 

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