Whisky Review: Benriach Limited Release 1978 #1596

Style: Spicy and Fruity

Nose:
Begins with some powerful dry spice, leading to almond oil and salted caramel. Hazelnut puree, soft peanut butter touches, a bit dry, but luscious. Cornflakes, pineapples and passion fruits slowly reveal themselves at the core. More icy spices giving off multiple sparks, pencil shavings, apricots in a damp, earthy and smoky jacket.

Palate:
Opened up reasonably well on the palate. Soft, stewed tropical fruits are more on the forefront and gliding on top of the robust spirit spice. Apricots, peach skins and hazelnuts immersed in sunflower oil. Nectarines building some formidable sweetness at the core. Floral honey lightly drizzled on crunchy malt biscuits. Red chilli flaring up towards the back, while cornflakes and barley pouring over cinnamon sticks, finish with dark chocolate and some delicate, damp mineralic peat.

Finish:
Hazelnuts, butterscotch and reminiscence of tropical and stone fruits.

Thoughts:
Interestingly, the more I drink this, the more it grows on me. My original impression on this Benriach during the 70s session was not great, because it was very spicy and the expression was quite tight, even by Benriach’s standards. But after a few drams down and some extra breathing time, you are able to explore the nuances and appreciate the structure and texture of this dram which has been mostly hiding behind the spirit hotness. Shy, more on the drier, nutty side, and not as sweet as its counterparts, but with some love and patience, the journey can be surprisingly rewarding.

☆+ [Recommended]

[54%| Original Bottling| 1978 Distilled| 2006 Bottled| Single Cask| Natural Cask Strength| 134 of 201 Bottles| Hogshead| Non Chill Filtered| Non Coloured| *+]

Esmond

Whisky Review: Benriach Limited Release 1976 Aged 30 Years Bottled Exclusively for La Maison du Whisky #3557

Style: Fruity and Spicy

Nose:
Aroma of light coconut and dry spice. Roasted melon seeds, cinnamon sticks, gradually opens to some immensely fragrant apricot jam. More sweet stone fruits, fresh green apples with a good sprinkle of red chilli shreds. Spicy, but the mellow, stewed tropical fruits are giving a beautiful glow here. Going slightly waxy at the tail. Honeycomb and sparkling white oak. A little bit dry, but quite vibrant and elegant.

Palate:
Wow, first sip down and you know this is going to be something special. A gentle coconut interlude leading the way to an incredible combination of peaches and passionfruits, graceful and very delicious. Some grapefruits, apricot jam and floral honey concentrated at the core. A quick peppermint spike, orchard fruits, sunflower seeds and oil, five spices and shichimi dust suspending in mid-air. The sweetness amplifies over time. Just a touch of vanilla sugar on a dry barley tail to finish.

Finish:
Tropical fruits whispers growing louder, silky coconut and hazelnut notes linger on. Honeyed white fruits and fresh apricots shining till the end. Amazing.

Thoughts:
Rumors has it 1976 Benriach is something special, today, as a latecomer whisky enthusiast, I am privileged to be able to sample and review this bottle. Benriach tends to have a dry and spicy backbone (and somehow at this vintage/era, Benriach does remind me of Longmorn in many ways), but when the fruits are properly assembled and built upon it, man, it can be absolutely magical. Love it. Low three stars.

☆☆☆ [Most Recommended]

[53%| Original Bottling| 1976 Distilled| 2006 Bottled| Single Cask| Cask Strength| Cask Number: 3557| 13 of 222 Bottles| Hogshead ***-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Benriach Limited Release 1977 Aged 33 Years Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish #1033

Style: Sherried and Complex

Nose:
Razor-sharp, cool as ice spearmint slices through and carves out a path. A moment of silence before the sherry juggernaut rams in. Incredible burst of assorted red-almost-dark fruits, cranberries, black currants coulis and some Toblerone chocolate. Wood varnish goes high while there are some umami touches below. Tangerine candies forming a brittle crust while overripe white peaches look very blurry in the midst of overwhelming sherry. Cloves, white pepper and cinnamon at the tail. Quite nice.

Palate:
The sherry parade continues, summer berries, full-spectrum red fruits and dark chocolate carried by a powerful spirit spice. Tassie cherries with silky texture, while white peaches gleaming positively in the middle. Cedar wood, incense ashes, cloves and lit cinnamon sticks setting in quite deeply at the back, the oak is more prominent on the palate than the nose has suggested. Kumquat peels, nashi pears, panna cotta and barley emerge towards the end.

Finish:
A long sherry tail, bright red fruits gradually sinking lower to a profound chocolate notes with a citrus and summer berries twist. Red dates take over eventually.

Thoughts:
Label says this is a PX finish but man, this Benriach looks and tastes “darker” than many first-fill sherry bottlings, which is quite unexpected. Virtually a sherry bomb on the surface, however, what lies under is surprisingly convoluted, the oak, the (vague) distillate manage to squeeze through, build beneath the red fruits and made their presence felt. The profile is a bit challenging, but it is complex, fun and delicious. Low two stars for me.

☆☆- [Highly Recommended]

[52.2%| Original Bottling| 1977 Distilled| 2010 Bottled| 299 of 331 Bottles| Cask Strength| Single Cask| Cask Number: 1033| Non Chill Filtered| Non Coloured| **-]