This distillery near Elgin is going through a period of great evolution, after having moved from Chivas in 2004 to the management of Billy Walker and his willing partners. The core range is very wide and there is nothing missing, as shown by the recent launch of two peated bottling (Curiositas and Authenticus) and a series of OB single casks. We taste a low-end expression of the core range (it’s around 35 euro), released in 2009, the result of 12 years of aging in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
N: a perfect example of modernity: it shows itself with a young and naive malt with a strong contribution of the two sherry woods. Well made, but without great depth: it is immediately open and gives strong hints of juicy red fruit (strawberry), raisins, chocolate. Then fresh wood, in a ‘sherried’ but of absolute fresh and simple context with a pleasant note of prickly pear and orange.
P: very consistent with the nose, also as far as the general sensation is concerned, i.e. of a whisky dressed to party but with some details out of place: the body is very watery and the flavors (between red fruit and chocolate/coffee, a sprinkle of orange), even though they are rich and explosive, seem as if they are on the surface. The malt remains hidden, also because towards the end a blanket of fresh wood takes the scene with a nice intensity, but without great variations.
F: and here too wood and raisins, with a hint of unripe malt.
We don’t want to be unfair, also because the quality/price ratio remains more than satisfactory, but this Benriach seems to us like an energetic brushstroke of sherry on a distillate that is still too fresh (even if 12 years are not peanuts). Going by metaphors, one could say that we are dealing with a nice jewelry ring, well thought out and shiny, but still a distant relative of its jewelry counterparts. In other words, for a mindless drink: 81/100.
Recommended soundtrack: Vinicius de Moraes, Maria Creuza Y Toquinho – Samba em prelude