December 4th, 2012 by Darin
As a 10, this particular Benriach is young—though the distillery does produce 12- and 16-years as well. As such, its color carries understandably less gravitas than some other whiskies I’ve reviewed here. The Benriach is primarily a yellowed orange, beset, here and there, by viridescent highlights. It wears its age on its sleeve, but with more chutzpah than some other 10s.
The nose is uniquely short-winded. After the dram has had a moment to catch its breath outside the bottle, it opens into the aromas of pungent pear and grape. Noticeably (but not overwhelmingly) phenolic, this aroma is sharp and fragile, sustaining itself predominantly with hints of dry maple. Afterward, the nose dissipates readily.
On the palate, the Benriach 10 begins with hot, steeped cardamom and bitters. Uncomplicated, it follows this salvo with slight citrus while stabilizing itself with dry, starchy almonds.
The finish is steep and cool—a typical Highland counterpoint to the “heat” of the malt upon the tongue.
The aftertaste is slightly cloying, flirting with a kind of pistachio-syrup. In the end, though, the aftertaste is very pleasant and understated; it lingers like all good Highlands.
On a scale of 1-5, I rate the Benriach 10-year a 4. This is a very good 10 that shows a lot of promise. I worry that older Benriachs might decay a bit too much into brandied or bourbonized characteristics, as this is a thin line that the 10 treads quite well.