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Another in Diageo's stable of ugly stepchildren distilleries, with the likes of Dailuaine, Blair Athol, Teaninich and up to recently Mortlach which got to finally graduate from the class.
Of note is the use of house malted barley from a Saladin box installed from 1964 to 1984 at which point malt was brought in rather than handled on site. A kind of strange partial triple distillation (a la Mortlach/Springbank) from 1974-2007 and finally worm tub condensers which are still in use to this day. This meant the whisky made at Benrinnes was of the kind of heavy variety favoured by other distilleries like Cragganmore & Mortlach, many of these destined to be blended in Johnnie Walker.
I'll be comparing 2 examples distilled 22 years apart as a pretty interesting exercise.
This Benrinnes is from Carn Mor's Strictly Limited line, it's distilled 1996 bottled 2015 it's a blend of two bourbon barrels, proofed down to 46% ABV and outturn of 423 bottles. So outside of the floor malting era but well within the partial triple distilled one.
Nose: Really fragrant, apples, muskmelon and other overripe fruits. underneath that red licorice, a little sunflower oil, a touch of confectionary notes, fresh oak, not dominant but present, there's a nervousness to it, really kind of big and bright.
Palate: Sweet, sharp, green tea, honey and cashews, the tiniest pinch of curry powder. There's definitely a slightly feinty side to this, not bad or out of place, it brings a little grunge to the proceedings.
Finish: Mineral, licorice root, cloves and berry candy. Medium-short finish, lingers on drying oak, fruit & a touch of cardboard.
Notes: Surprisingly spritely and bold for 18years and 46%, the distillate is still quite chatty but it's not unpleasant since there's a good amount of cask and ripe fruit to counter it. There's tension in this whisky and I really enjoy that it might not be my favorite but it's really grown on me with time.