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As you may know, I have a soft spot for BenRiach. They’re loud and proud, and they give just about any production method a go. Yes, the whisky’s hit-and-miss, but I love the eccentricity. And when they’re good; they’re good. And this is one of the good ones. It’s heavily peated and finished in the sweetest of PX casks. While you may not end up liking it as much as I do, I guarantee you won’t be bored with it.
Nose: This is an intensely smoky nose with some sweet, pungent sherry notes. Chocolate-coated maraschino cherries, pralines, marzipan, maple, burnt caramel, smoky bacon, red licorice, raspberry jam, and leather. There’s a saltiness here, but it comes without the coastal character that Islay whiskies boast. Unique, complex and intense.
Palate: A gradual arrival with a lovely mouthfeel. Hammy. Smoked, glazed ham. Crispy bacon. Sweet, candied fruits. Almond extract, chocolate-coated cherries, plums, and raspberry jam.
Finish: The sherry and peat integrate beautifully. Campfire smoke, caramelized apples, a bit of charcoal, almonds, cherries, cedar, and pine. Medium-long finish.
Well… this is special. Both the smoke and the sherry come out swinging with this one. Make no mistake; this IS a whisky for peat-heads. While this may not have the classic coastal peatiness that Islay lovers know and love, it’s nevertheless big and powerful. But be warned; the sherry here is quite sweet. I usually go for the darker, more brooding sherried drams, but this one works. I think it’s precisely because of those big, sweet, syrupy, fruity notes that the sherry manages to stand its ground. What it lacks in subtlety it makes up for with complexity and potency. This is one of those “drinks bigger than it scores” whiskies. If you don’t find it good, you’ll at least find it interesting. Very recommended.