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Having already tried the ‘Heart of Speyside,’ the 12, and the 16, it’s only natural that I move on to the 20 year old. True to form, the 20 keeps the core range’s tradition of playing it safe in terms of flavour profiles. Is it bigger and better than its tasty, albeit average counterparts? Let’s see.
Nose: Light fruits come first. Fresh pears and pineapple, predominantly. Apple and cinnamon, honey, and a creamy wisp of white chocolate are next. Wow. This is really fresh, fruity, and vibrant, given that it’s a well-aged release.
Palate: Creamy arrival. Mild nuts, seared vanilla, and some spice greet us first. The fruits make a fleeting appearance afterwards, although it would be nice if they stuck around a bit longer. The characteristic grain and peat combo that are found throughout the core range are also in there, but slightly smoother and more subdued than in its younger counterparts.
Finish: Medium finish. Melon, spice, and the faintest hint of charred oak.
This is a good dram. It should be more rounded, given the age. Also, the nose promises a fresher and fruitier dram than what’s given. And of course, the 43% isn’t doing it any favours. As it goes, the core range of Benriach remains a slightly above average offering, but it’s played too safe. Being a lover of their more eccentric releases, I can hardly resent the brand for keeping it simple with their core range. But it’s just not everything you want it to be. If you want something with more character, go for the peated, the wood, and the limited releases. Although it’s hit or miss, they are always interesting. The flagship range is not. They’re light, simple, straight-forward, and safe. Good, yes. But this is not where this distillery excels.