Let’s not beat around the bush, the latest batch of BenRiach bottlings (batch n°9) was not a big hit. At first we were delighted to see three casks from the legendary vintage 1976 (peated cask #8804, Pedro Ximénez cask #5317 and this classic Speyside cask #6967) but quickly the rumour went round that there were very few highlights. Let’s find out. This release was distilled 14th of October 1976 and matured in a sherry butt.
BenRiach 35 yo 1976 (59%, OB 2012, sherry butt #6967, 339 btl.)
Nose: it plays the card of sherry very openly. A lot of plums, cherries and toffee. Polished cedar wood. Cinnamon. Eucalyptus and tobacco notes. Nice but far away from the tropical fruitiness of the best 1976s – although we have to say it’s close to cask #6942 which was very good in its genre. Some sour oranges, leading to a sourness of balsamic vinegar.
Mouth: very oaky, just spicy oak at first but quickly taken over by tannic, bitter oak. Some espresso and herbal tea. Bitter chocolate. Too leafy really. Not much fruit, only bitter grapefruit, and overloaded with cough syrup. Oversherried I’m afraid.
Finish: dry and fairly bitter, with too many herbal notes and not enough fruitiness.
Not a classic fruity 76 style, and even when you compare it to the other heavily sherried cask #6942, it’s clearly on a lower level. The otherwise strong nose can’t save it, on the palate there’s simply too much oak. Mind that the score is rather forgiving and focusing on the nose. Around € 350.
ps/ Last year’s 1976 was € 230 a bottle… No comment.