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I’ve tried a few from the Benriach peated lineup, and I’ve enjoyed them all. These are whiskies that I’m sure people will disagree on. Traditionalists might dislike the way the peat is presented. Others, like myself, might find these whiskies to be a fun and interesting departure. While I’m about to break this whisky down into tasting notes, I tend to enjoy the Septendecim best when I feel like treating myself. Not because I’m feeling analytical, and certainly not because it’s too expensive. I simply enjoy drinking this stuff on a visceral level. It’s different and it’s good and that’s all you need to know. But if you MUST know more; here’s the review:
Nose: A bit waxy. Lovely honey, fresh barley, sweet peat, cinnamon, ginger, and damp autumn leaves. There’s more fruitiness to this than the Curiositas. Apples and pear, primarily. Also, this is considerably more oak on the nose than their 10 yo peated expression. The fruit and spice notes exhibit its Speyside heritage, and balance nicely with the gentle peatiness.
Palate: Creamy, with a smooth, effortless arrival. Very delicate honey, which seems to lubricate the taste buds. Next up we have a definitive leather note. Ginger and smoke. Finally the peat comes in. It’s a calm, unusual peat. The peat has a certain tang to it that’s quite indescribable. There’s nothing Islay or coastal about this stuff.
Finish: Deliciously sweet hickory. Nuts, raisins, and sour apple, as is the case with so many Benriach finishes. The smokiness peaks simultaneously with the gingery sourness, and then gently fades away. Tobacco. A bit of citrus rind. We’re left with a faint taste of banana and some gentle baking spices.
This is my favorite so far among the peated Benriachs that I’ve tried. The 10 is more vibrant, and the 21 is perhaps a bit too gentle. The 17 seems to have found a balance. I really like this style of peat. Although its flavours are bold; it’s not intense, nor is it coastal. Is it as good as Islay? No. But it’s a refreshing and novel dram. What makes this one particularly special is how smooth everything is. Its flavours are vivid, yet they come on so effortlessly. The creamy, mouth-coating texture really seems to calm the onset of the bold flavours, and the transitions between them are seamless.
If I were a more objective reviewer, this (and its brothers) might have gotten lower marks. But they score higher based on nothing more than the fact that I thoroughly enjoy drinking them. They’re interesting and well crafted. For me the Benriach peated lineup represents a refreshing and affordable take on peated whisky. Highly recommended.