Single malt whisky - tasting notes

03 Nov 2009

BenRiach 1990 (cask 970)

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: BenRiach

The Benriach 1990 cask #970 is 19 years old and matured in a bourbon barrel without an extra finish. It’s made in “classic Speyside” style which means it’s unpeated.


BenRiach 1990 cask 970 BenRiach 19 yo 1990
(57,1%, OB 2009, cask #970, 195 btl.)

Nose: indeed classic BenRiach style: pears, oranges and subtle honey. Clear notes of barley. Quite fruity and floral with hints of pinapples. Toffee. Vanilla as well. Reminds me of the Benriach 20 yo which is not a bad thing of course. Mouth: punchy attack, mostly the sawdusty oak that’s talking now. The creamy vanilla has grown bigger. Acacia honey. Lemon zest. Spicy notes: cinnamon, some ginger and liquorice. Slightly rummy aftertaste. Finish: not too long, on grapefruit and oak tannins.

A solid, classic BenRiach. No surprises here. Somewhat reminiscent of the 20yo but at cask strength with punchier oak spices. Still available at around € 80.

Score: 85/100

BenRiach 1990 (cask 970) 5 Ruben Luyten 2009-11-03
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  • S.

    Hi Ruben,

    I forgot to mention you that alongside the very good Benriach 1976 PX Finish 54.1% I already mentioned you, I also tried the 1990 Tawny Port Finish 53.4% both from Batch 9 at London’s Whisky Show in October 2012 and I thought it wasn’t worthy of a Single Cask release. It has some similarities with this 1990 Cask that you reviewed in this post but a little lighter maybe because of 3 extra years of aging or cask differences… Anyway, it wasn’t bad but pretty uninspiring, with just a slightly orangy/banana-ish taste and a light sour-ish red fruit winey note from the Port (which wasn’t unpleasant) and then the very light creamy and dry white oaky finish which characterises (for me) the 1990 Benriachs that I’ve had so far (4 in total of which 2 were independant bottlings.)

    At least this time we can say that Billy Walker wasn’t too “heavy handed” with the wood finishing as it was well balanced and well integrated.
    Concerning this 1990 that you reviewed here, 85 points is far too much for me. It lacks lots of fruits and complexity in the centre (mid-palate) and is quite harsh, spirity, dry, with big drying white oakiness in the finish and although the body (mouthfeel/texture) is big, the mid-palate is pretty hollow and the finish pretty “hard”.

    From 2009, you missed out on the 1994 Bourbon Barrel which was absolutely brilliant and intense, with a very active oak influence but with everything interacting beautifully together!…
    You could still get it here if you’re interested:

    Oh, and Vintage House in London have a bottle of Kinclaith 1969 by Signatory at natural strength for about £750!…

  • WhiskyNotes

    Thanks but a full bottle is probably too much just to get an impression of a supposedly mediocre distillery ;-) Thanks for your comments S.



September 2014
« Aug    

  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

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  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1600 notes by Ruben

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