So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Benrinnes, 23 yo, OB Special Release 2009

Yes this is the 2009, the 2014 was just released! Now’s the time to have a go at this one.

Benrinnes is a little different. As we know most modern Scottish malt distilleries practice double distillation, though Auchentoshan famously triple distills, which is generally taken as the ‘Lowland’ or ‘Irish’ style, even though not all Lowlanders or Irish triple distilled (And Talisker did till the 20s). But that’s not where we’re headed today.

There are a few odd ones out that have special distillation regimes – Mortlach famously makes use of their Wee Witchie to get the equivalent of 2.8 times distillation. Springbank does double distillation for Longrow, triple distillation for Hazelburn, and something close to 2.8 times distillation for regular Springbank. And Benrinnes, the last oddity on this short list also had a part triple distillation, at least from 1974 till 2007, when it was switched back to double distillation.

(from http://www.whiskystory.blogspot.com)

Benrinnes has 6 stills in a double three-still set up, a total of 2 wash, 2 intermediate and 2 spirit stills. The feints of the wash and spirit stills were redistilled in internmediate still, and the foreshots and heart of this intermediate still were fed into the receiver for the spirit still. The effect here is that the feints are given more copper contact in redistillation.

In 2007, the distillery reverted to double distillation without any change to the piping or still arrangement. The low wines were simply directed from the twin wash stills to their respective spirit stills and the 2 intermediate stills were paired as a wash and spirit still. Diageo says this was done to meet the needs of the blending team, and that Benrinnes retains its ‘complex meaty character’, though I suspect they just need more blending whisky.

Benrinnes, 23 yo, OB Special Release 2009 58.8%

(Commercial image – thanks TWE)

Label blurb: High up at 700 feet on the flank of Speyside’s noblest peark. Benrinnes commands a view of the heathery moorland and draws mountain water from the granite bed scurran and rowantree burns. Partial triple-distillation and the use of a traditional worm tub to cool the spirit help bring out its considerable character, which is further developed here by ageing in sherry wood. Muscular and lightly smoky, this big full-bodied after-dinner malt has concentrated sweetness, superb balance and an exceptionally long, dry and warming finish.

Nose  Nose: Dry sherry, not that much cocoa and the dried fruit is not sweet but deep, earthy and intense. I get compost and tree bark shavings, also ‘medicated’ tree resin too, a very organic kind of sherry nose. Also clearly a big bodied malt, with something that does suggest cured ham, which almost seems like sulphur here. With water: Opens up but it’s the same nose, a little sweeter maybe.

Taste  Palette: Not sweet but salted and mentholated dried dark DARK fruit plus thick meat sauce, in fact, a really roasty, gamey meat sauce full of hot metal and char, and with a ‘stink’ about it that says a roasted wild boar was and left in the still. (hope it’s not the cork.) The menthol grows and it gets drier and more savoury. A weighty spirit, but straightforward on the tongue.

Finish  Finish: Fairly long, savoury/earthy herbal dryness.

Score 70


A big sherried whisky without sweetness, who would have thought. Still, it makes you wonder if this savouriness has something to do with the extra distillation on the feints, as both Mortlach and Benrinnes are known for a particular meaty quality.

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This entry was posted on November 23, 2014 by in Benrinnes and tagged .
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