Single malt whisky - tasting notes

12 Nov 2009

BenRiach 1977 (Virgin Oak cask 3798)

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: BenRiach

Virgin Oak or New Oak is not a common choice for Scotch whisky and certainly not for a full maturation of 31 years! Could this BenRiach 1977 / 2009 Virgin American Oak be the oldest whisky that has been fully matured in a new cask?

Quercus Alba (American white oak) is normally used for maturing bourbon. It’s close-grained timber, very resistent to leakage or evaporation and low in tannins. There is a general agreement that new oak rarely produces whisky of an acceptable quality, but recently there has been quite a lot of wood research and results are getting very interesting.

BenRiach 1977 Virgin Oak 3798 BenRiach 31 yo 1977 (43,2%, OB 2009, Virgin oak cask #3798, 292 btl.)

Nose: lots of orange peel and fresh orange juice. Whiffs of green banana and vanilla. Also a little nutmeg and freshly sawn wood. After a while there are a few notes of pineapple. Orange infused tea and a little moist cardboard. Not very complex but very drinkable. I was afraid it would be too oaky but it isn’t. Mouth: rich and contemporary I would say. Starting sweet with the oranges that go on and on. Hints of sweet almonds. Growing bigger with some garden herbs and more nutmeg. Spicy vanilla cream. Finish: even more spicy now, with plain oak coming through. Nice development. Chewed pencils in the aftertaste.

If you don’t mind obvious oak in your whisky and you like the recent Glenmorangie oak experiments (Artisan / Astar / Signet), then this should get your attention. Very good although I expected a bit more complexity after so many years of ageing. Around € 165.

Score: 87/100

This concludes my review of this year’s BenRiach single casks. Overall very high quality with a couple of truly exceptional releases.

BenRiach 1977 (Virgin Oak cask 3798) 3.5 Ruben Luyten 2009-11-12

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  • Tony: Well the 1401 batch 8 could be found easily in most places for £200 - indeed I got one for £180 with a discount. The £225 price was a bit high and
  • WhiskyNotes: Don't just look at the UK - it's not always representative for the rest of the world. The last 1401 for Europe was batch 8. I bought that one for €
  • Sam: Nicely written notes, not rated this myself yet. Just to confirm, it's nowhere near a 40% price rise though. The last 1401 released in the UK was at

Coming up

  • Macduff 1980 (Golden Cask)
  • Karuizawa 45 Year Old (cask #2725)
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Craigellachie 13 Years
  • Port Askaig 19 Year Old
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)

1659 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.