This one has ‘bias’ written all over it. And stubbornly I refuse to back down from the score I’m giving it.
Full disclosure: I (along with a couple other gents, including the nefarious MaltMonster) picked this cask to bottle for our local whisky club, The Dram Initiative. After going through a couple runs of cask samples, this 16 y.o. bourbon barrel jumped out as a stellar example of what happens when a distillery’s best cut goes into a flawless cask for a few seasons. What we ended up with is the epitome of ‘universal appeal’. Quite simply, this is a beautiful, creamy fruitbomb of a malt, with just the right dashes and sprinkles of spice.
For those not local or ‘in the know’ regarding The Dram Initiative, this is a 100 member strong club we launched more than two and half years back. We do things big – with sprawling ranges and high end malts – and try to combine the sublime with the ridiculous. There are always great drams, lots of laughs and a flair for individuality. An endeavour like bottling our own barrel seemed like a brilliant unifying factor for members. And indeed it has been. This BenRiach cask will certainly be the first of many DI-exclusive bottlings.
Anyway…when I say ‘bias’ let’s not forget that we, of course, had nothing to do with actually making this whisky or anything; It’s more for transparency and an acknowledgment of the fantastic work the team at BenRiach has done. Mashmen, Stillmen, Warehousemen, all the way up the ladder. To end up with a malt this clean is a true testament to craft and passion. And I guess maybe we did have some say in what this whisky ultimately ended up being. Our role in the end product came about by way of saying ‘stop the maturation, and bottle it’ when we recognized the intrinsic quality of the malt.
This is a great whisky. Proud to have been a part of seeing it come to fruition.
Nose: Sweet and syrupy. Almost jammy in some ways. Oh, man, this is like the ultimate dessert. Caramel apples. Soft vanilla. Toasted coconut and grilled pineapple. Roman nougat. Some tart and tangy moist dried fruits (maybe fruit leather). All rich in sweet heavy cream. Such a great mix of rich fruit and softer vanilla-heavy baking notes. Harmonious and universally appealing. LOVE it.
Palate: Oh yeah! What an arrival! Lots of vibrant fruits with a creamy sweet undernote to balance it out. Delivers what the nose promises, by way of those borderline tropical coconut/pineapple notes. Viscous and mouthwatering. Great, but subtle spices from the bourbon influence. This malt had a beautiful 16 year long nap in a gorgeous comfy, cozy bourbon barrel. It’s awake again now and infinitely charming in all its subtle complexities.
Thoughts: Not sure what more to say. Love this whisky.
– Images & Words: Curt