Speyside 12 year 40%

Knowing we were in for a sherry trio with the Edradour and GlenDronach, we deliberately decided to start with a light ‘appetizer’ mini from Speyside.

And the whisky?


Speyside 12 year 40%

Here is what we found…

  • Nose – Phospherous like we just lit a match, sharp alcohol, then prunes, slightly musty, light herbs of perhaps basil, rosemary, juniper and a hint of pine, was there an elusive whiff of apple? olives? Or just a sliver of toffee caramel before sliding into turpentine then back to a generic sweet…
  • Palate – Thin and watery… 40% just doesn’t give it enough ‘oomph’. Very dry and a bit bitter. One likened it to the dryness the way your tongue feels after chomping down on a mouthful of dry crackers.
  • Finish – Was there one? Perhaps the lightest dash of cinnamon before disappearing?

Overall it was completely nondescript. Like a generic Speyside without anything that distinguished it remarkably and a few elements that were not entirely appealing. We really had to push ourselves to find much.

I felt exactly the same when I went to research to find out more about this particular bottle.

We know it is a single malt, from Scotland, specifically Speyside, matured for a minimum of 12 years and bottled at 40%.

The bottle also shares:

The cool, clean waters of the River Spey, beloved by generations of fly fisherman, are at the heart of Scotland’s whisky-making tradition.

But beyond that?

Erhm… nothing except you can buy a 700ml bottle for $40 at Marks and Spencer in the UK.

  • You can taste the history in each distinctively creamy sip, redolent with notes of mature vanilla and warm, spicy cinnamon. 
  • About this bottle: This smooth Speyside classic is made using time honoured, traditional methods that haven’t changed for over 130 years. In the heart of north-eastern Scotland runs the fast- flowing waters of the River Spey. On whose banks, it’s cool clean waters are at the heart of the country’s treasured and esteemed whisky making tradition.
  • Allergens: Sulphites

I’m not kidding…

After the spectacular surprise from The Whisky Exchange with their Edition No 1 Speyside 10 year, this was a complete let down.

What more should we know about this whisky?

Other miniatures sampled:

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More Miniatures – Speyside, Edradour, Glendronach 18 + 21

My fellow Mumbai whisky aficionado and I kept up our dedication to explore the world of whiskies through miniatures…

So enthusiastically did we embrace our task that we even invited another friend to join the sipping sampling fun!

And what did we explore this time?


Our session featured a Speyside appetizer and a revisit of three familiar Highland sherry friends:

Tasting notes will be coming soon, however if you missed any earlier miniatures explorations, check out our experiences here:

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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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