Ok I’ve been away far too long faithful reader, outside of our club meetings I haven’t been indulging much . I did have 2 fabulous tasting sessions, in the last few weeks one with fellow Connosr member Robert99 another was an SAQ shindig. These being less reviews per se than just quick impressions. The first was another great SAQ in store tasting for BenRiach this one led by their rep Alasdair Stevenson.
It managed to snag a reservation through their lottery system, I haven’t tasted many BenRiach’s being more familiar with the groups other distillery Glendronach, I figured this was a good way to take the plunge.
First off hats off to Alasdair, he did two of these back to back and facing a the crowd wasn’t exactly “switched on”. Still fun and by the end people were a little more loose.
Our flight started with the the 15 year old Sauternes finish. This is 11 year old bourbon matured spirit that then gets an additional 4 years in Sauternes casks. This one is entirely dominated by the French oak and sweetness of Sauternes. Sweet shop, tinned apricot and peaches, spicy and ginger. That dark bright acidity that you get from Glenlivet 15 or Oak Cross. I found it interesting at first but very tiring after a while, it loses the malt backbone.
Next was one of the releases from the Peated 18 range, the one with the cute names. “Dunder” was finished 1 year in Jamaïcan rum barrels. The peat levels on this one are intense, instantly you are hit with a wave of new vinyl/ burnt plastic. Almost Talisker like smoke and pepper, some caramel a little orchard fruits. This one is pretty closed up, a slight molasses metallic tang did not feel as well integrated on the palate.
Solstice 17, Port cask matured and this one really knocked my socks off. It’s @ 50%abv but so smooth. Nose is light smoke, dark fruits jammy. The palate offers up so much more than anticipated by the nose, very well integrated and not overwhelmed with sweetness or tannin.
Last was the companion bottling to the “Dunder” an 18 year old called “Albariza”, big peat meets all the goodness of a Sherry bomb. Intense nose, damp earth, ash & creosote, then a really nice burst of quality sherry not just a finish, dried dark fruits and leather. The palate is just rocking, rich confit prunes and raisins , a big meaty like some of the heavy peated Islay’s , then that peat smoke hits you. I would compare it to Bowmore Laimrig, this is big stuff, not much sulphur or rubber which is nice. No wonder this thing sold out that evening it was just a stupendous bottling but way out of my range at 178$
The Solstice and Albariza we’re the clear winners for me, the prices we’re high but in the case of the latter especially the quality is way up there.
It was confirmed by Alasdair at the meeting that the SAQ has agreed to purchase the newly released BenRiach Cask strength. I am looking forward to trying that and hoping we will also get some of that newly released peated quarter cask.