Awe-Inspiring BenRiach Sextet Review [10 Curiositas, 12, 15 Dark Rum Finish, 16, 20, Authenticus Peated 21]

Before I get started, let’s just get this out of the way[1]

There, now that that’s out of our systems, we read the TIPS I wrote about the spirits I SNIFFED and put in my mouth.

Wink.

Anyway, BenRiach is the big ONE today (Wink), and each of the reviews were done on a separate SESSION (Wink). I’ve read some interesting things about BenRiach, and given that Bruichladdich is bought up, we may have to start going to BenRiach for a ton of different flavours. BenRiach is independently owned, and recently expanded by buying Glenglassaugh and Glendronach.

Just saying, the bottles may not look like women’s perfume bottles, but the whisky is pretty nice. Something to consider.

Anyway, let’s see what my smattering of BenRiach’s are all about.

Region: Speyside


02 - BenRiach 10 year Old Curiositas

So to start off this bonanza bevy of BenRiachs, let’s go to the BenRiach 10 year Curiositas. This four time Silver Medal (International Wine & Spirits Competition) winner is made with a heavily peated malted barley and is aged in oak for 10 years. It’s suppose to be a return to what Speyside malts tasted like in the 19th century. This is my second time reviewing, so let’s see if I rate things lower when I don’t know what they are.

01 - BenRiach 10 year Curiositas

Price: $64.95 (CAD)

Abv: 46%

Colour: Sunflowers

Nose: Peat, pepper, lemon, cinnamon, anise, molasses, ginger

Reminds me of a gingerbread cookie in the smell. Well, an alcoholic gingerbread cookie.

Note to self: Make alcoholic gingerbread cookies.

Taste: Rose water, Peat!, pepper, lemon, cream, pecan, nutmeg, oil, habanero, smoke

Wow, they don’t kid around with saying this is heavily peated, this is really, really peated! There’s a great consistency to it as well, and a slow buildup of heat, like habanero peppers.

Finish: Peanut brittle, orange, peat, dark chocolate, pepper, dry

The finish is a return to the nose, in that the sweetness is back, yet this is different as there’s a lot of dry elements to it, and just a little acid from the taste opens it up.

Conclusion: Let me just say this is an amazing dram. It’s dry enough, acidic enough, and peated up to 11. However I have to dock marks for some of the heat and the almost constant changing tones from nose to taste to finish. It almost changes too much on me, and in retrying it I realize that I enjoy it, however I probably wouldn’t have it too often.

85/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die re-review

101 Whiskies to try before you die re-review 


04 - BenRiach 12 year

Up next we have one that I don’t see too often: The BenRiach 12 year. Yup, not the sherry finished, nor the port finished peated (with their fancy names that sound like they summon demons), this is BenRiach letting the whisky age without any finishes or peating it up.

Not that that should turn you away, as the 12 year has actually won multiple Silver Medals from 2005-2012. So let’s see if this lives up to its younger brother who smokes a lot.

03 - BenRiach 12 year

Price: N/A in Ontario

Abv: 43%

Colour: Coors Light

Nose: Brown sugar, plums, orange rind, pear, pear, Genoa salami, floral, ginger

Very sweet nose, with faint wisps of spice. Hard to pick it all out. I didn’t pick out any wood, yet the website mentions that, so I may have mixed up the faint wood with the ginger or spice in the Genoa salami.

And yes, I wrote pear twice, there’s quite a bit of fresh pear scent here for me.

Taste: Ginger, mineral water, pepper, cumin, mint, general herbal flavour

Very much has a mineral flavour to it, yet not without going too bitter. Fair amount of herbal flavour throughout. Like having a plain salad with pepper on it almost. I think the sweetness mixed with the herbal flavour to turn into a Ginger taste for me.

Finish: Basil, citrus, sour melon, spearmint, tarragon

And more herbs. You know, maybe there’s more to it, and I try to let it breathe some more to let some flavours develop, or add water, yet it’s mostly just herbals flavours. Reminds me of some Frankenstein creation of a dry Chardonnay, Jägermeister, and Creme de Menthe.

It could be that Tannic flavours, which others have noted, take center stage on my tongue, and it ignores everything else. In this case the fruit was present, yet the tannic flavours took over.

Or perhaps I’m going insane.

Conclusion: This isn’t really the type of dram I’d normally go for. It’s dry yet not too dry, and really herbal. The website describes quite a few flavours of chocolate and spice, yet I didn’t get them from the dram I had. I’m wondering if it’s a bad dram or not, as I’ve read through others reviews and they had more luck. Oh well, hopefully it hasn’t turned, yet I’ll try it again in the future. For now, here’s my rating:

74/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #95


06 - BenRiach 15 year old Dark Rum Finish

It’s unofficial Birthday Dram time! Or at least that’s the reason I’m breaking my usual rule of not drinking on a weekday and sitting down to the BenRiach 15 year old Dark Rum Finish. Seems appropriate to have a dram that’s half my age on my birthday.

Well, as appropriate as anything really. I’m not really an appropriate type of guy.

None the less, let’s see how a dark rum finish pairs with the fancy BenRiach spirit. Think of it as the Elizabeth Swann of the set, if you will.

05 - BenRiach 15 year Dark Rum Finish

Price: N/A in Ontario

Abv: 46%

Colour: Light yellow

Nose: Ginger, nutmeg, orange, papaya, rum cake, vanilla, cardamon, lemon rind

Right off the bat you get a fruit cake sorta vibe from this, and it’s tasty. It’s missy the figgy part of it, which I’m sad about, however it more than makes up for it with the rum adding that fruit to the BenRiach’s spice (thus the cardamon smell).

Taste: Brown sugar, cinnamon, gingerbread, coconut milk, black tea, smoke, cardamon

The spice here seems almost baked in, and I almost wish it took a step forward. Note: This is how I like my tannic flavours, mixed in, well balanced, and paired with smoke.

Oddly enough that’s how I prefer my dangerous sex as well, savvy?

Finish: Malt, root beer, nutmeg, over ripe banana, oats, tobacco, molasses

Very malty and deep at the end. My wife helped me identify tobacco, as she’s the cigar smoker and I’m the Scotch drinker.

Together we form a team that can defeat the Kraken. Or at least be snobs. Such a snob.

Conclusion: The initial thought is to compare this to the Balvenie Carribean Cask. They are roughly the same age, are both Speysides, and both have rum finishes. That said, if I believed that, I wouldn’t know my rum. Dark rum and Amber have much different flavour profiles, and that is evident here. This is bolder, and while I’m more of a Dark Rum fan, it loses 1 point over the Balvenie for missing out on some of the spice in the taste, and being a little too Rum influenced, thus leaving the finish not as nice.

That said it’s still really nice, and you could go a LOT worse on rum finishes, so go try this one at some point.

82/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #96


08 - BenRiach 16 year Old

Let’s take a moment to recognize that it’s that time of year. Work is nuts, and we’re all short on patience. Honestly, I think Xmas is more about not having to worry about end of year and Xmas anymore and just being able to relax.

This past weekend I had the chance to relax. Workload SHOULD be lowering for me, barring now harrowing moments waiting for emails. Holidays are coming soon. And as a celebration of sorts, I planned to finish up the mega review.

Friday was the day to try BenRiach 16 year. This is another one of the pure BenRiachs without any finishes or peating. Another 4 time winner, I’m very interested to see how this compares to the 12 year old, as I wasn’t too impressed with that flagship offering.

07 - BenRiach 16 year Old

Price: N/A in Ontario

Abv: 43%

Colour: Pear juice (this is yellow)

Nose: Brown sugar, banana extract, honey, tart grapefruit, lime, violets, plums

A very lively, sugary taste to this one, with some acid and floral notes coming out as time goes on. If you don’t like sweets, then you’re probably skinnier than me and I hate you.

Ahem, I mean you may not like the nose on this one. Closer to a traditional Speyside than the last ones, that’s for certain.

Taste: Caramel, salt, lemon pepper, cloves, metal, cherry, currant, melon

Some spice, butter, acid, and fruit, however the fruitiness takes the forefront over anything else.

Also has a little bit of a taste of metal in there, which is off putting. Unless you like metal flavouring, then more power to you.

Finish: Sour, mushroom, lemon, off nutmeg (nutmeg that is starting to turn bad), coconut meat (the inner meat of the coconut, as in the white inside of the shell, which is the brown outside, as it’s a coconut, which is a fruit from a tree, look it up), leather, cilantro, wheat

The tannic and sour flavours have matured into something that’s a lot more palatable and enjoyable, almost meaty. It has some heat and a little bit of smokiness mixed in, and even a little of that wheat you sometimes get with bourbons. This is nice to sip on a mild day.

Conclusion: This was a great dram to relax with. It is balanced, it has some nice fruit flavour to forget that Toronto is under a blanket of light snow and freezing temperatures, and while not perfect, is miles above the 12 year. I’d go so far to say that even at a $40 increase (assumption, I don’t actually know the price difference in your area since the court order), this is worth it.

83/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #97


10 - BenRiach 20 year Old

So it’s now a day after my monthly Pen & Paper Role Playing game, and let me tell you, we’re all burned out. Except my cats. Somehow they aren’t burnt out. Maybe because they lied to me about having a job.

Sneaky cats.

Anyway, I’ve decided that Sunday is a good day for the BenRiach 20 year. Why? Because the Xmas shopping is almost done, the Xmas baking is coming up soon, and work will calm down soon. Hopefully very soon.

Please let it be calm soon.

The BenRiach 20 year is granddaddy of the Flagship range, the unmarred mark before walking into the premium range. Multi Gold Medal winner, and general ambivalent king to us all.

Let’s see how it tastes.

09 - BenRiach 20 year Old

Price: N/A in Ontario

Abv: 43%

Colour: HP Pencil Orange

Nose: Lemon, toffee, cumin, chili powder, orange, floral, vanilla pudding

The sweetness that was present in the 16 is still here, yet more pronounced to the point of forming complex flavours. Also there’s a little bit of burn/spice, more than you’d expect from 43%

Taste: Light cherry, honey, oak, raspberry tart, butter, tannic, hibiscus tea

Buttery and a light amount of sweetness. The tannins are back, yet they’re not taking over too much. They mix to give you a hibiscus tea flavour. Look it up if you’re wondering what that tastes like.

Finish: Honey, floral, lime zest, grape, cedar, coconut flakes, brown sugar

Nice finish, almost like a nice Canadian whisky at the end, though there’s some Lowland elements in it. Reminds me of the Valinch, though the strength isn’t there.

Conclusion: Theoretically speaking, this is better than the 16. Is it THAT much better than the 16? I’d have to say no. It’s different, it is a little more complex, yet it’s still quite similar. I’d probably buy the 16 or even Auchentoshan Valinch over this one. The 43% is what does it the most harm, personally.

I wonder what the 25 year tastes like…

84/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #98


12 - BenRiach Authenticus Peated 21 year

BenRiach Authenticus Peated 21 year is our last one, and it’s suitable, as this one is no longer being made, as it was replaced with the 25 year peated one. Can I just say that is amazing? I mean, you hear “We’re no longer making this” and assume that it’s just going away. Then you find out “We’re aging it 4 more years” and it’s like finding that one place at Halloween that gives out full size chocolate bars.

Friggin sweet!

11 - BenRiach Authenticus Peated 21 year

Price: N/A in Ontario

Abv: 46%

Colour: Burnt wheat

Nose: Peat, leather, honey heather, cinnamon, chilli chocolate, ginger, slight citrus, eucalyptus, lemon pound cake

Very complex, and lighter peat than an Islay. I’d almost compare it to the Laphroaig 18 or Ardbeg 1977, as it’s complex, and doesn’t have the overabundance of peat like young Ardbegs.

Taste: Licorice, oak, tobacco, chilie flakes, orange, herbes de provence, mint, toffee

Very herbal. There’s a lot of smoke mixing with flavours throughout to give it a nice taste overall. Also a little sweetness that pairs nicely, like a nice Sauternes and an Oh Henry! bar.

Finish: Soft earth, ginger, chocolate, oregano, cinnamon hearts, cream

At the end the peat is all but gone, yet there’s some really interesting sweetness, creaminess, and some heat all mixed together. And the finish lasts a long, long time, like the length of time I lie about being able to keep IT going (Wink).

Maybe I’ve been writing this too long, let’s move along.

Conclusion: This is a subtle, perfect use of peat in an aged whisky. The BenRiach sweetness and bitterness mixed well with the peatiness that adds earth and makes a tasty baby.

Wink.

88/100

1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #99


Overall Conclusion: BenRiach is doing a lot right. No chill filtration on their older bottles, good starting place, and they are smart enough to realize the limitations on the main bottles and finish them to add depth of flavour.

Buy BenRiach and you won’t be unhappy.

Scotch reviews #128-133, Speyside reviews #36-41, Whisky Network reviews #168-173

2 thoughts on “Awe-Inspiring BenRiach Sextet Review [10 Curiositas, 12, 15 Dark Rum Finish, 16, 20, Authenticus Peated 21]

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