Diageo’s Speyside workhorse, this distillery is one that produces mainly for blends. Anybody who’s had a Johnnie Walker, has had Benrinnes whisky.
Benrinnes is a special distillery even today, despite cutting out the partial triple distillation in the style of Mortlach and Springbank, as it still uses worm tub condensers (alongside several other Diageo distilleries like Talisker, Oban, Cragganmore, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, and Glen Elgin, as well as ONE of Springbank’s three stills), with water that’s kept particularly cold. Another feature is clear wort, which then goes into a relatively long fermentation (at least 60 hours) in wooden washbacks.
The partial triple distillation is evident in the distillery setup, as it has two sets of one large wash still (20,000 liter capacity) and two spirit stills (5,500 liter). Nowadays, the wash still run is simply divided and then charged into the two spirit stills, for a traditional double distillation, very much like Glengoyne works with their three stills.
This is part of a ten single cask release by Specialty Drinks’ Single Malts of Scotland brand. This release includes two 1988 casks , from Bunnahabhain and Tormore, a Glenrothes 1989, two Ledaigs (11 year old sherry butt, an older sister to a bottle I picked up at the 2015 Whisky Show, and 12 year old bourbon hogshead), and five more expressions ranging from a 1992 Bruichladdich to a 2007 Glen Moray. I’ll be reviewing these releases over the next few weeks. I chose to start with the Benrinnes as the least seen of these distilleries, although the Glenburgie and Miltonduff don’t lag too far behind on this criterion.
Benrinnes 20 Year Old 1995, Hogshead #9057 – Single Malts of Scotland (51.1% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, droplets come off the necklace very slowly and in thin, long lasting legs.
Nose: Perfume-y and floral notes of carnations, with honey and a somewhat dusty dryness. Fresh hay and some freshly ground peppercorns round it out. Some time in the glass strengthens the honey
Palate: Sweet and honeyed, with pepper and fresh orange juice and a hint of fresh pear.
Linger: Spicy and sweet, with a very long lingering dryness. The spice remains on the roof of the mouth for a long time, and has a fun tingle.
This is a great selection of a cask, with quite a bit to explore, although at 51.5% ABV, I’m a little loath to add water.