We spend a large amount of time at The Whisky Exchange looking for great whisky. While this sometimes appears as obscure old bottles and hard-to-find things from overseas, we also work closely with distilleries to snap up exclusive bottlings. We’ve convinced the folks at BenRiach Distillers to let us have another pair of single casks – one from BenRiach and one from Glendronach.
BenRiach is known for its experimentation. Even before the current owners bought the distillery in 2004, BenRiach was playing with triple distillation, and since the takeover they have continued, with peated spirit, cask finishes and other tinkering going on.
Our latest exclusive from the distillery is one of the triple-distilled batches, produced on 27 May 1998 and bottled in July this year, after some time finishing in a Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon – a big, short and fat cask. Triple distillation produces a much lighter spirit than regular double distillation, and combining it with a rich and active PX puncheon is a gamble – will the cask influence swamp the spirit or complement it? It certainly paid off in this whisky:
Tasting notes by Stuart P (as I’m down with a cold and can barely taste Lemsip)
Nose: Toasty and nutty, with tempting aromas of walnuts and hazelnuts, beefed up with rich mocha, bitter orange marmalade and cinnamon. A touch of raisiny sweetness from the PX barrel but not heavy or overdone.
Palate: Rich, smooth texture. Lovely decadent dark chocolate cake, coffee, barrel char and sponge-cake batter, but crucially, not sweet or cloying. The palate is perked up by clove, nutmeg and fresh orange peel.
Finish: Rich but not sweet, with the mocha notes adding a rich bitterness.
Comment: A delightfully rich after-dinner dram that would go really well with a chocolate dessert, or alongside a coffee.
Along with the BenRiach, we also managed to convince the team to part with a cask from their second distillery: Glendronach. When BenRiach Distillers took over the distillery in 2008, they put lots of money into buying sherry casks, taking Glendronach back to their roots as a producer of excellent sherried whisky. This exclusive bottling is from a Pedro Ximénez puncheon, like the BenRiach, and you can tell from the first sniff:
Tasting notes by Stuart P
Nose: Big, big aromas of juicy raisins and sultanas along with dark chocolate, rum and espresso. There’s some marzipan in there, too, as well as candied mixed peel, honey and malty cereal. Very plush, ripe and comforting.
Palate: As expected, a rich hit of dried fruit, especially raisins, but accompanied by toasty cinnamon, hazelnuts and Demerara sugar. There’s some welcome espresso bitterness to counteract the sweetness, with some rum-like depth to add weight. Generous mouthfeel.
Finish: The rich raisin note persists, fading slowly along with the mocha and spice.
Comment: Unapologetically full-flavoured, this really shows off the quality of the cask it was aged in, while the spirit is rich and robust. This would be ideal served alongside crème brûlée.
A pair of bruisers – packed with flavour and a must for sherry heads. I’m hoping that I can shift this cold before the tasting bottles sitting in our office get polished off by the rest of the team…