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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  • Glen Flagler (70° proof)
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Abbey Whisky)
  • Blair Athol 1993 (First Editions)
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  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1594 notes by Ruben

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