I bought this bottle from Binny’s in September of 2010 after first trying a BenRiach 50mL tasting. Since then I have bought two other batches of Curiositas neither of which where as good as this one. If the L number is similar to Ardbeg then this bottle was filled in 2004. That would have made it one of the first batches of Curiositas made by the new owners of BenRiach. For me this was one of the bottles that got me searching for peat outside of Islay. These notes come from 9/3/2010
Nose: This nose starts with hay and other notes associated with the farm: leather gloves, cornmeal, animal feed, and a hint of mustard that is both dryer and astringent. With time more farm notes appear: muddy boots, dirty hay that animals have used, rusty water pipes. Lovely! Now a little bit of lye soap and something that reminds me of the breezeway from my Grandfather’s farm house. Magnificent! I love this nose. There are a few wisps of smoke. The peat is there but does not dominate. The farm smells are out of this world!
Taste: Not too sweet . . . there is some sour green apple, pear, and lemon. A bit of peat with a hint of smoke. More light fruits with a hint of mustard.
Finish: Big roar of peat and fire that hits all in one big bang that leaves your mouth coated with sea salt and iodine. Crazy! This is much more like an Islay malt then on the nose or taste – and yet so very different from Islay. Lovely dry hay peat . . . that grows into a nice crescendo of peat and sea salt.
Complexity, Balance: This is amazingly well balanced on the nose, palate and finish. The peat works beautifully with the malt and bring out tons of flavors on the nose. The taste has more sour fruits (slightly sweet) then the nose, but the finish brings is all into focus. So great complexity with a bit off for balance.
Aesthetic experience: I remember this bottle as it was when I first bought it. The color is very light and I didn’t like it. I also hated the name. I wish they dropped the Latin “Curiositas” and simply had it as 10yo Peated – or something like that. Oh well. I still love how this particular batch is the closest thing I have come to a “farmy” Brora (mainly on the nose) in a long while. Further, it is 46% and I am sure they didn’t use E-150a in this batch (or if they did it was very, very little).
Conclusion: for me this score is “buy another” without question. Sure, the last two bottles I have owned have not been as good. However, I really like what BenRiach is doing and I hope they keep it up. I am excited to see what happens when the peated spirit that the current owners are making gets into the Curiositas.