BenRiach and GlenDronach Tasting

Another Trinity Hall tasting (I love these events) and this time it was hosted by Alistair Walker of the BenRiach and Glendronach distilleries.  Here’s the lineup with some notes:

  • BenRiach logoBenRiach 12 Year Old – $43
    Notes:  This one started out great, but got bitter after a while.  Initially, I was impressed with the notes of vanilla and honey, but this proved to be short-lived.
  • BenRiach 16 Year Old -$75
    Notes:  Nice sherry influence with hazelnut and oak notes.
  • Glendronach LogoGlenDronach 12 Year Old – $46
    Notes:  Much better than BenRiach 12 with more sherry influence.  Also, better than MacAllan 12 (from a recent tasting). This one spends 7 years in ex-bourbon casks, then 5-6 years in sherry casks. It’s blended from malts up to 16 years old (an artifact of the distillery closure from 96-’02), with the youngest being 12 years old.  I highly recommend this one for MacAllan 12 fans… it’s better and costs less.
  • GlenDronach 14 Year Old Virgin Oak – $70
    Notes:  Starts out in ex-bourbon casks, then finished for 18 months in American oak. Sweet and fruity.
  • GlenDronach 15 Year Old Revival – $80
    Notes:  Milder nose, but really great taste. It’s aged in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks for the entire 15 years.  Easily, the standout of the night.  I want some!
  • GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice- $100
    Notes:  Not as good as Revival… less dark fruit and more spice and wood.
  • BenRiach 17 Year Old Solstice 2
    Notes:  Finished in Tawny Port casks and heavily peated. Not available in USA. Spicy, hot, peaty and sweet. Very good!  I might have to search this one out on future European travels.

I’m now a big fan of the BenRiach and Glendronach distilleries.  This was a great lineup of whisky, providing great variety and interesting (even creative) combinations of aging.  I’ve got a bottle of Glendronach 21 Year Old Single Cask Oloroso Sherry Cask (1990) that is bottled at cask strength and is non-chill filtered at home that I can’t wait to try now.

BenRiach 16 Year Old

Speyside Single Malt, 16 Years, 40%, $59

Speyside Single Malt, 16 Years, 40% ABV, $60[/caption]

Grass, mild peat and toffee greet the nose along with just a whiff of smoke. The smell has a chewy sweetness to it that is quite nice. As it breathes, the aroma opens up with corn syrup, grapefruit and a touch of brine. The taste is initially salty and sweet with notes of grapefruit, vanilla and white pepper. The salt and pepper linger and give way to a woody aftertaste. The white pepper is the strongest flavor often the sweetness subsides and, unfortunately I’m not a big fan of this flavor. The salty heat is welcome, although a bit overdone without any other interesting spices. The initial flavor is quite good, but it degrades quickly from there to a grassy bitterness. The pepper doesn’t go away for minutes and I’m hesitant to dilute it with such muted flavors. Amazingly, a bit of water helps out greatly. The tangy vanilla up front improves and the pepper is quickly brought under control. Now it’s quite nice! I’m beginning to take a great interest in Speyside whisky.

According to Master of Malt:

A Gold Medal winner at the 2006 International Wine and Spirits Competition, this 16 year old BenRiach was also a 2006 Silver Medal winner at the International Spirits Challenge.