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Benriach Septendecim is 17 yo peated Scotch aged in Bourbon barrel. Of course it is non chill filtered and has no caramel in it. We are used to see Benriach with a Sherry, a Porto, a Sauterne or a Rum finish. When you encountered one that been aged only in Bourbon barrel you feel like you are tasting the real Benriach, something like the original. You are tasting this malt without any finish therefore "Au naturel" if you accept that peat is part of this malt. So lets go for the naked truth.
Nose: The peat is covering evrything at the beginning. A very beautiful peat, woody with mineral notes. Then you get the vanilla, light hay and eucalyptus, yellow plum and white raisin. It is refined and lovely.
Palate: The raisins hit you first with a very sweet cake taste, like a vanilla cake made with brown sugar, then the peat makes a big return very mineral, ashy and after comes a meaty flavor and a deep woody smoke. I really like it but I am missing some fruits notes.
Finish: The cake and the smoke are entertaining your nose as well as your mouth for a very long time. The mineral ashy note is there as well but in the background. It is as if it is glue to your tongue You can bring it forward by simply sapping air on an empty mouth.
Balance: On the nose, the balance is better when you swirl your glass as you get more low notes. On the palate, it is better when you are not too much analytical. In both case it has a great balance.
Conclusion: It is quite unusual for me to get a better nose with a swirl because it usually brings too much alcohol for me. The fact that I don't get an alcohol burn with this dram tells a lot about how well integrated the alcohol is. Maybe some of you would like a higher ABV, but I think that would be an error of style. I really like this whisky. It is complex (that comes mainly from the peat), but not in your face. It is quite sweet but mainly because there is no bitter note to balance. I guess the distillat was of very very high quality, but a bit simple and then they aged it to let us see the quality of the distillat. I would like to be able to ask a few questions to Mr. Billy Walker on this one...