This week we’ll have a direct comparison each day: two or three bottlings from the same distillery and age / vintage, recently released by different independent bottlers.
As you know, casks are often sold in large lots and they are then shared / distributed among related bottlers. My Malt Maniacs article from 2011 is still relevant, I guess. Maybe even more so: as (older) whisky becomes ever more rare and expensive, smaller bottlers are struggling to find available (decent) casks, so they are increasingly forced to jump on the same wagons.
We’ll start with BenRiach 1990, bottled by Sansibar and Liquid Treasures.
BenRiach 25 yo 1990 (50,8%, Sansibar ‘Samurai label’ 2015, 239 btl.)
Nose: very bright and fruity. Kiwi, tangerines, Granny Smith. Hints of passion fruits as well. Crystal clear really. Over time this becomes more neutral and ‘modern’ with emerging vanilla.
Mouth: punchier than I expected. A malty core, with additional fruity notes (oranges and strawberries, but especially grapefruits) and some barley sugars. As the grapefruit gets the upper hand, spices kick in. Pepper and liquorice with some herbal honey. Zesty lemon and subtle mineral notes.
Finish: medium long, still a zesty freshness and bittersweet notes. Fruit eau-de-vie.
Around € 200.
BenRiach 25 yo 1990 (47,9%, Liquid Treasures ‘Travel to Mars’ 2015, bourbon barrel)
Nose: a slightly flatter nose. Still really fruity, but more on pears, melons and berries, with a lower acidity. More honey. Hints of marzipan and vanilla. While the Sansibar bottling seemed to loose some of its sparkle over time, this one gradually improves.
Mouth: slightly more honeyed at first. More oranges, a hint of strawberry, less grapefruits. The zesty bitterness seems to arrive later. The spices are still well noticeable though, mainly pepper and ginger.
Finish: medium long, bittersweet and slightly mineral, with a similar alcoholic touch.
Around € 155.
Both of these whiskies are honest, fairly neutral BenRiach bottlings that comes accross quite a bit younger than they actually are. They have a nice fruitiness but also firm spices and an alcoholic kick. One extra point for the (initial) nose of the Sansibar release, but the Liquid Treasures is clearly better value for money.