With only a handful of official bottlings, Benrinnes is very much a blender’s malt. Between 1974 and 2007 Benrinnes distillery used a unique partial triple distillation. I’m not sure whether this is the only explanation for its often a little bulky, sulphury spirit that sometimes reminds me of Mortlach. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Benrinnes that was bad or uninspired…
Benrinnes 20 yo
(50%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Time series’ 2016, bourbon cask, 280 btl.)
Nose: a fresh mix of lemon peel with grassy notes and a mineral / waxy touch. Pears and apples underneath, light floral notes and some mint. It’s all about summery freshness.
Mouth: some darker, syrupy notes now (peach sweets, golden syrup, chestnut purée). Still some mineral notes, grapefruit zest, leafy notes. Light vanilla. It’s not an easy bright Speysider after all.
Finish: medium long, zesty with a hint of toast and spices.
What started as an easy-going summery profile evolved on some characterful traces that are less common. I kinda like it, I guess. Around € 100, still available from TWE.
Benrinnes 20 yo 1995
(51,1%, Single Malts of Scotland 2016, hogshead #9057, 281 btl.)
Nose: slightly less bright and sparkling, with a little more oak. Nice fruity notes though (apricots, orange, maybe unripe cherries). Similar floral touches, as well as hints of waxed oak. Rounder, sweeter than the Time series.
Mouth: same syrupy character. Apricot jam, orange candy, lime, a little pepper. A vague hint of rubber too, a bit strange but not a problem really.
Finish: medium long, same combination of sweet citrus and spices.
This one is rounder and certainly less mineral, with less floral notes and a tad more (almost tropical) fruits. Around € 100, still available from TWE.
Benrinnes 18 yo 1997 (52,2%, Whisky-Fässle 2016, hogshead)
Nose: a bit cleaner perhaps, with all the characteristics of the other two. Citrusy fruits, light mineral touches, floral notes, traces of wax. Bright, rather summery. This one finds a particularly nice balance.
Mouth: the sweetest of this trio, with a bit less of the quirky notes, but it also makes it a bit simpler. All on sweet lemon and lime, with light pepper, some grapefruit zest and mineral notes. Reminds me of Clynelish at times.
Finish: medium long, with the same flavours.
Difficult choice here, this is the most accessible, but also the least entertaining. Do you like classic beauty or rather something interesting? Around € 125 – now sold out, I believe.