Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Benriach 12 yo 'Importanticus Fumosus'
Tawny Port Finish
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
This will be the first BenRiach to be enjoyed as a part of the Malt Mission, and the first of 3 new BenRiach releases we will be tasting over the next few days.
We will always remember our visit to BenRiach back in Spring 2005, as will everyone who was there with us. We were a big group of self-educating whisky nerds (and others along for the malt-infused ride, "cask strength is my favourite region") who spent 3 days visiting different historic and alcoholic locations in Speyside. Alan McConnochie, Master Distiller at BenRiach, welcomed us warmly and began to show us parts of this historic, and only recently resurrected, distillery (more history over the next few days). There were no rules, no roped-off areas, he didn't patronise us with rehearsed tour-talk, and he opened all the doors and effectively let us explore any area that we wanted at will. We all met by the kiln after some time where, surrounded by peat on three sides, he took us through a tasting of four of the distillery's expressions. A wonderful experience. Thanks, Alan!
This expression is limited to 2520 bottles and is part of a trio of heavily peated wood finishes. Yes, they each have the totally unnecessary latinisms that both attract and repel people, as was seen first-hand at the Whisky Fringe. I am not sure how it fares on shop shelves.
But how is the whisky?
Smoke underneath sour fruits. Coconut suncream. White pepper and lemon.
Not as sweet as expected, granny smith, then oak and (BOOM) smoke. Chewy density with some hospital characteristics: gauze, iodine, hand wash. A little but of chilli, ginger, and vinegar. Meringue sweetness and citrus linger with smoke through the finish.
Most port finishes I have tried simply don't work for me; they tend to give off smells of bile or baby sick/vomit. In this case, I found more in common with Bowmore's janitor's closet characteristic (on the nose). Sure, neither read like very positive impressions, but there they are, so take your pick. I would say that the port adds an island characteristic to this whisky, and with the added peat we do get something similar to a Ledaig or Bowmore.
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