Peaty Mini – BenRiach Peaty Quarter Cask 46%

Next in our miniatures sampling was a little nip from a recent trip to Canada. After some disastrous experiences with decent drams being devastated by poor storage, I was keen to shorten the gap between acquiring the sample and actually tasting it!

BenRiach Peat Quarter Cask 46%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Peppery peat of a style that is “quite forward”, cinnamon apple crumble, chased by delicious oily bacon
  • Palate – Christmas peat, plum cake, very sweet
  • Finish – Spice sweet, cinnamon

Each sip tells a different whisky – the kind of one we wished we had more of to continue to explore.

We also tried it in the Norlan glass – it smoothed out the palate, yet punched up the flavours, gently rounding and bringing out a dry quality.

And what do the folks at BenRiach have to say?

This UNIQUE single malt has been distilled from PEATEDmalted barley and has been FULLY matured in quarter casks. A smaller cask allows for more INTERACTION between the wood and the spirit, giving the whisky a great depth of flavour and aroma in a shorter period of time. Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and natural colour, this is an EXTRAORDINARY, full-flavoured dram.

  • Nose – Elegant waves of wood smoke intensify to burning heather with a delicious contribution of ripe orchard fruits. Subtle hints of peaches, cinnamon sugar and a slight herbal note of fresh barley give an added contrast to the unique, rich peat character.
  • Taste – Intense peat smoke mellows to smouldering peat embers infused with green pear and nectarine notes. Nutty oak and vanilla pods combine with a touch of white pepper and a twist of lime to give a crisp, smoky finish.

We sampled from a sample from an open bottle in October 2017… The original bottle was opened on my wedding in June 2017, purchased at a Winnipeg Liquor Store for approx $107.

And what else did we sample in our merry mini malts evening?

And here’s more malt miniatures from my The Whisky Exchange:

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Quarterly favourites – how to pick?

Whisky Lady is actually a spin-off of my blog Everyday Adventures in Asia –  created as I recognised my interests have two rather distinct audiences.

  • Those that enjoy a good dram or two! (or was that three?)
  • And those interested in the adventures of a crazy Canadian who calls India home and traipses around Asia

However I still impose share on Everyday Asia a monthly round-up of Whisky Lady’s adventures. This quarter featured:

Whisky Lady

Whisky Lady

In my round-up, I try to pinpoint which was my favourite for the month. And I struggle. What I realised is I can’t pick ‘one’ as I like different whiskies for different reasons in different settings.

As it is not my habit to numerically ‘score’ whiskies, I have no easy number to help ‘rank’ the month’s samples either. After all, while a nice neat number seems authoritative, there are experts out there who have perfected ‘scoring’ whiskies. Who am I to add to their numbers!?

A number also doesn’t convey how taste is a very personal thing. My palate and yours may be quite different – which is why I enjoy sampling both alone and with others. Why descriptions can help you discern what might interest you or not. Some read ‘dirty socks’ and go eewww! Others know that’s just one of many elements you can find in a whisky.

A number also doesn’t recognise that some drams are great for a particular mood but don’t quite match a different setting or company. Some are like elegant ladies and must be treated accordingly. Others grab you by your (ahem!) nether regions with a rollicking good ride!

That said, I have contemplated keeping in mind a few simple factors when sampling whiskies. Something that could help hone a list of ‘favourites’ based on vague criteria or descriptive triggers to remind me “Ah… that’s why I liked it!”  or not!

A few factors for consideration include:

  • Mood: What kind of setting could I envision sipping? Quiet evening curled up at home? Clinking sociable glasses with some colleagues? A bad-ass party of mad men n women? In short – what kind of mood does the whisky put me into? Or mood would it compliment?
  • Mode: Neat, drop of water, or (gasp!) with ice or mixed. Could it work in an exotic cocktail? Or one that absolutely under no circumstances should be messed with – neat n only neat! Or is it a whisky I wouldn’t cringe serving at a party and watching folks liberally dump in ice cubes and drown in soda?
  • Money: Would I buy it (again)? Is it value for money, rare commodity or rubbish for the price-tag? After all, you can’t really expect the same quality of a $20 whisky as you would from a $200 one!
  • Mmmm….. This is an indefinable quality. You just know it when you find it! I favour more complex whiskies with nuanced elements. Ones with great body, balance, finish with a little something ‘extra’ going on… Yet how many decent drinkable drams actually achieve (or come close) to this elusive quality?

I may not always assess a whisky referring to some of these considerations – particularly ‘Money’ as we source individually for our tasting sessions. While I could use a UK online store as an indicator – it often bears little relation to the kind of prices we incur in markets closer to our home in Mumbai, India so may not be of significant benefit to others.

However ‘Mood’ and ‘Mode’ may make a regular appearance and it might be fun to have quarterly ‘top picks’ based on ‘Mood’ and ‘Mmmm…’ Perhaps a topic for our next monthly tasting session to discuss!

Curious what others think. Those with tasting groups, do you ‘score’ or ‘rank’ whiskies? Or have a rudimentary way to categorise whiskies? Other ideas?

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