LMdW Artist #8 – Benrinnes 20 year 49.4%

We kicked off exploring the full range of the new La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 with a non-Sherry Benrinnes.

This was a far cry from my first encounter with Benrinnes which was a Single Malts of Scotland bottle of a 24 year old cask strength. That one was harsh and medicinal. And this one? Read on…

Benrinnes 20 year (1995/2018) Hogshead Cask #9063 49.4% (279 bottles)

  • Nose – Started a bit dusty, light fruit, mild and subdued… then started to evolve… even more pronounced fruits, vanilla sponge cake, sweet dry grass
  • Palate – Again soft and mild, gently sweet and exceedingly easy to sip, slightly “rusty”, then a bit spicy
  • Finish – Lightly bitter and nutty, sweet, spice and a bit metallic

Much more enjoyable and interesting than my previous encounter.  When I later read the tasting notes, thought they were rather apt!

As for what it would set you back? SGD395.

And what do the folks at La Maison du Whisky have to say?

  • Nose – Refined, complex. At first, the aromatic palette is covered in a thin layer of arnica and peppermint aromas. Then, everything shatters, ceding to notes of green malt, cut hay and incredibly juicy fruits (white grape, canary melon, Louis bonne pepper). The longer it is left to breathe, the more concentrated it becomes. Vanilla pod and acacia honey bring lots of consistency.
  • Palate – Elegant, rich. On the attack, the vanilla pod has developed into a creamy custard and numerous aromatic plants (verbena, sage, rosemary), highlighting its pleasant freshness. The mid-palate is characterized by notes of polish (beeswax, emery cloth) and honey (still acacia). The spicy (grated ginger, cinnamon) end of the palate struts its stuff.
  • Finish – Long, airy. Green almond and fresh walnut appear alongside freshly cut hay. Then, unexpectedly and with originality, it develops notes of green olive and lime. The luscious (sorrel, lemon balm) retronasal olfaction is slightly peppery and sprinkled with a few grains of salt. The empty glass faithfully reproduces the medicinal notes of the initial nose, adding cocoa bean and praline.

—-From LMdW website transition from French.

La Maison du Whisky Artist #8 sans Sherry

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Affordable Adults – Benrinnes 24 year 52.6%

After a seriously solid start with the Signatory Imperial 20 year, we were primed for another treat in our ‘Affordable Adults‘ evening…

Out came the Benrinnes 24 year… You could be forgiven for not being familiar with this Speyside distillery. Benrinnes has the moniker ‘Diageo workhorse‘ as it primarily pumps out whisky for blends.

Benrinnes 24 year

Benrinnes 24 year (1991/2016) 52.6%

Distilled 9 Sept 1991, bottled 10 March 2016, Hogshead Cask No 090508, Outrun of 287 bottles and part of the Single Malts of Scotland series put out by Specialty Drinks Ltd (aka TWE).

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Phenol, medicinal, quite “in your face” with spirits, nail polish or anti freeze… eventually… a little cinnamon spice emerged, became a bit sweeter with a hint of meaty vegetation
  • Palate – Harsh! After the subtle Imperial, the Benrinnes seemed like solvent, very dry, too strong on the alcohol, harsh, bitter and dry with very little else
  • Finish – Burn…

Overall our initial impression was quite negative.

So we thought perhaps a little water may help. It didn’t hurt…

What actually helped more was a revisit much later in the evening with a Gurkha Cellar Reserve Limitada 15 year cigar. In short – the combination worked.

I decided to take a wee sample home to see what more may be going on away from the influence of our initial reaction. I’m glad I did.

  • Nose – Much sweeter than before, enabling the meaty vegetal quality to be more pronounced, a medicinal sweetness almost like that Axe “universal oil” for relief of headaches, a hint of salty sea breeze
  • Palate – Yup. This is still still packs a punch but not nearly as harsh as before, still bitter and dry, mineral, dry leaves and tobacco, cereals, a little lemon
  • Finish – Like a dry bitter tea
  • Water – With a generous dollop not just a drop or two, opened up to bring a bit of mocha, fruits…

Here is what The Whisky Exchange folks have to share:

This 24-year-old Single Malts of Scotland bottling comes from one of Diageo’s workhorse distilleries, Benrinnes. Matured in a single hogshead, this is lively with notes of refreshing lemon oil, stewed fruits and savoury dark chocolate.

“My goodness, it’s perfect whisky, if you like them bright” –  Serge Valentin, whiskyfun.com
  • Benrinnes 24 year bottleNose: Complex, intriguing nose that begins with toffee popcorn, vanilla sugar and honey-soaked sponge cake, then adds a layer of citrus aromas with orange and lemon, as well as a fresh floral note. 
  • Palate: Rather lively on the palate, with fresh and stewed-fruit notes, a touch of lemon oil that cleans and refreshes, ending with more savoury notes of tobacco, dark chocolate and espresso.
  • Finish: Rich chocolate that coats the palate.
  • Comment: Plenty going on with this whisky. You think it’s sweet, then fresh fruit arrives. You think it’s fruity, then darker, richer notes appear. I like it a lot, but I’m struggling to pin it down!
Well… not a ‘hit’ like the Imperial… at least for our merry malters. However at least in the revisit a few more elements emerged. That said, it will never be a stunner in our books.
Others in our ‘Affordable Adults‘ evening included:

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Affordable Adults – Imperial, Benrinnes, Linkwood + Blair Athol

I returned from a terrific trip to Singapore to enjoy an indulgent evening of whiskies acquired by a member of the Bombay Malt & Cigar club in London.

Some were “pre-selected” by another member and I during our June 2016 Covent Garden The Whisky Exchange stop… falling into the category of “no brainers” for being different, none official distillery bottlings and all at a relatively reachable price…. made more so thanks to the “Brexit Booze” discount with the pound falling.

Needless to say, exploring a more affordable avatar of “adult” whiskies was a much anticipated treat!

Imperial, Benrinnes, Linkwood, Blair Athol

Our ‘Affordable Adults’ evening included:

Unfortunately between the time of purchase and consumption (Aug 2016), only the Blair Athol is available at TWE however some remain obtainable through other sources for reasonable prices.

Good to know there exists quite decent older drams that won’t break your piggy bank completely!

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