BenRiach 1997 Madeira Finish Cask #7591
The tasting notes on the tube for this one used the word ‘tropical’. If you know me, you’ll know that is somewhat like offering free porn to a lonely teenage boy. A good mate of mine is largely responsible for drawing me into the hunt for those malts that bear the hallmarks of exotic fruits and the sour / sweet tang of tropicalia. I tend to think of them as ‘Five Alive’ whiskies. They’re elusive, no doubt about it, but they’re also knee-bucklingly good.
The thing is, these tropical notes are typically found on much older whiskies, primarily of bourbon cask influence (but occasionally immaculate sherry butts too), so I was skeptical of this one to say the least. The stated vintage and the suggested profile made as much sense to me as Trump leading the primaries heading into this 2016 election. In other words…does not compute.
And yeah…sure enough, the closest this one comes to ‘tropical’ is that single word on the packaging. Oh well. I paid about a third of what I should have for this one. Can’t complain. And additionally it’s a pretty damn decent malt in its own right.
Nose: Definitely not tropical, but fruity enough. A surprisingly savoury note on top. Banana. Almond. Lots of spice, probably primarily cinnamon. Vanilla pudding or creamy custard. Moist tobacco. Salty pastry dough.
Palate: A little too much wine. Syrup-soaked fruits. Some apple and nutty notes. Still a little banana, but not as prevalent as on the nose. Quite dessert-like in some ways. Strong oaky backbone and a lot of spicy nip. A little bit of orange zest. Definitely a tannic malt. Leaves a dry woodiness.
Thoughts: The nose is much softer (and better, let’s face it) than the palate. The BenRiach character is hidden behind the Madeira unfortunately, but it’s still a more than decent malt. Glad I scooped up a couple at a great price.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt