Question for the community: which Benriach 12-year-old is your favourite between the peated and non-peated one, and why? If you prefer one of them over the other, is it simply due to the presence or absence of peat, your preference for either the Port or Marsala cask influence or just the overall effect? Since I’m having difficulty deciding on a favourite, here’s my review of a 50/50 mix of the two that I allowed to settle for about three hours in the glass. Name: Benriach The Slightly Smoky Twelve Single Malt Scotch Whisky ABV: 46% Maturation: 12 years in a combination of Sherry, Bourbon, Port, and Marsala wine casks. Smoke level: Slight Chill filtration: There is no statement on the labels, but from my own experience, adding water and giving it time creates quite a haze, so I am assuming that it is not chill-filtered or otherwise very heavily filtered. I wish they would state it on the label. Colour: Rich Auburn. Again no statement on whether it’s natural colour on the label. There should be a lot of influence from casks, as they used a fair amount of wine casks, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt that it might not have been necessary to adjust it too much. Without water: Nose: Loads of dried fruit and sweetness up front, with rich raisins and dried dates. Then slight background musty and feintly notes, a hint of leather and damp wood. Strange that it’s a pretty rich nose, but it also seems to be a bit closed off. Maybe that’s because there is no significant warming/cooling or tingling effect on the nose at this stage. Palate: Wow. The arrival is like a thick, velvety blanket that wraps around the tongue. It’s a very oily sensation that starts to heat up as the spiciness develops. Then it settles down initially in the finish and leaves a fruity aftertaste. Not detecting a lot of peat or smokiness, but the flavours on the palate are rich toffee, brown sugar, and treacle, with dried cinnamon in the development and an increasingly spicy (especially clove) finish as you take more sips. With water: Nose: More fresh and vibrant notes are coming up. Slightly floral and green, with sandalwood and grapefruit. Quite a marked difference, but still not a lot of smoke. Some sherry notes are still there, but more measured and reminiscent of Glenfarlcas 12, as I recall it. Palate: Still excellent! The smoky character now comes to the fore and integrates well with fresh oak tannins, hazelnut cocoa, and honey. An even more complex mixed spice lingers on the finish with an underlying maple resin. Conclusion: This mix really works, which is not surprising, as the two bottles involved are relatively comparable and already respectively made up of various cask types married together. The smokiness almost completely vanished in the mix, except for a little bit on the palate after adding water. Perhaps I should have tested the two OBs separately next to the mix to compare all three of them, but I suspect that I still would not have been able to choose a favourite between them! I can at least say that contemporary Benriach is pretty good stuff that tends to fly under the radar. For the price you get these integrity-bottled 12-year-olds (some of the cheapest age-stated whiskies in my market), they are well worth it! I would give this mix a solid score of 85/100, in my personal opinion. Cheers!

Posted by Willem Kilian at 2023-05-01 11:15:31 UTC