BenRiach Single Cask 20 Year Peated/Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish (1994)

Scotch Whisky Review #218: BenRiach Single Cask 20 Year Peated/Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish (1994)

Distillery: BenRiach

Region: Speyside

ABV: 51.7% Cask Strength

Age: 20 year. Distilled in 1994, Bottled in October 2014.

Cask Type: Finished in PX Sherry Puncheon

Cask Number: #4300

Color: 1.7, Burnt Umber. Non-Chill Filtered and Natural Color.

Nose: (The wife hates peated whisky, she took one sniff of this and gave me the biggest look of disgust asking how I could ever drink something this awful. At this point, I know I’ll be nosing all of them but still offer it to her to have a whiff to see her adorable reaction) The peat hits you hard from the get go. It’s a nice, smoldering peat that is almost like sitting in front of a dying campfire with some ashes wafting around with some smoldering firewood left. There’s a slightly salty and savory element to this as well, I’m reminded of a smoked white fish but I can’t quite place my finger on it. Overall its very earthy and warm.

Palate: The mouthfeel is rather oily. It covers your tongue like you’ve just taken a bite into super greasy deep fried food (you know, the kind that you can just feel your arteries clogging while eating). Right as this whisky hits your tongue, there’s a sharp and brief note of fresh strawberry. It quickly becomes overpowered by the earthier and ashier notes in this whisky. Without water, there’s a not a whole lot of depth here, just some muddled earthiness. With a bit of water, this whisky opens up quite a bit. You get some fruity notes in the form of what I imagine fruit wines would taste, slightly acidic and vinegary with some fruit. Strawberry wine, raspberry wine, and a hint of blackberry wine all pop up here and there.

Finish: Medium in length. It’s very, very savory. A nice salty, smoked ham comes to mind as well as burnt ends (the super charred parts, especially). Yum.

Conclusion: If I had to describe my ideal peated whisky, I’d probably tell you that I’d like something that’s fairly savory with some sweet, fruity elements to add some depth and keep the earthy notes from becoming too dominant. This is so close to that. The nose is quite nice with a pleasant amount of smoke and some savory elements. The finish is quite incredible with just how savory and delicious it is. I’m nitpicking here, but the fruity wine notes in the palate just don’t do enough for me. There’s a slight vinegar element to it that keep it from being truly a class apart. If there were more of the fresh fruit notes like that hit of strawberry in the beginning, I think this would’ve been truly amazing but as it is, it is ever so slightly lacking. Overall, very good whisky and I’m glad to have had it.

Final Score: 84.

Scotch Whisky Review #218, Speyside Review #92, Whisky Network Review #324

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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