New Whiskies

Batch 92

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New whisky tasting notes: Batch 92

Maybe it’s the weather, but there’s a spring theme blossoming in this week’s tasting notes. A 20-year-old BenRiach from Cadenhead makes an impressive start with its freshness, acidity and primaveral qualities. Dave Broom then pours himself a measure of BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 1, perfect for hghballs at the first barbecue of the year (and probably the second and third, too). A touch of maturity and elegance from Benromach 1975 follows, before a 20-year-old Caperdonich timewarps you back to the ’50s. An oily, sensual 21-year-old Craigellachie, with toffee and chocolate, catches Broom’s curiosity before it’s swept away by another big, oily whisky – a 32-year-old Inchmurrin. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • BenRiach 20 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    BenRiach 20 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    44.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very cool, light, fresh and fragrant, all apples and fresh pear juice with a little kiwi fruit, then hyacinth, gooseberry and iced melon. Sweetly spring-like. With water added, those delicate top notes are lost, so I wouldn’t do it.

    Palate

    The fragrance and freshness continues, with added elderflower and nettle, but what elevates this dram is the zippy acidity (think pink grapefruit) while a light, powdery quality adds balance. Water dampens all of this down too much.

    Finish

    Acidity! Freshness.

    Conclusion

    A perfect springtime whisky. Have it neat, chilled down, in a Champagne flûte.

    Right place, right time

    In the garden, listening to the Incredible String Band.

    BenRiach Peated Cask Strength, Batch 1

    BenRiach Peated Cask Strength, Batch 1
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Quite restrained smoke initially: pine logs on a fire alongside Amalfi lemon and the light fruits typical of the distillery which, strangely, are mixed with parsnip peelings and sweet-and-sour sauce. Water makes things fresher but also smokier, as the bonfire begins to blaze and the sap pops and crackles.

    Palate

    Sweetness comes over first – and at volume, dominating the smoke, which only develops from the mid-palate on. There’s a cool, minty pan drop element along with great feel, and a hint of youthful bravado that might need to be tamed slightly. Water brings out pineapple, but the change to smoke becomes more abrupt and edgy.

    Finish

    A little hard.

    Conclusion

    Great fun, and sound. Highball material.

    Right place, right time

    The first barbecue of the year.

    Benromach 1975

    Benromach 1975
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    49.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Mature and elegant, carrying its strength unobtrusively. There’s a touch of buttered gingerbread, alongside oozing, concentrated fruits, first flush Darjeeling tea, grated nutmeg and light clove. In other words: it’s complex. Old orchard fruits, sticky, with juices slightly browning. Sandalwood.

    Palate

    Gentle, layered and balanced, and not too woody when neat; there’s even some quite punchy acidity. Moves slowly on the tongue, demonstrating its balance and pulling out those scented woods, some dry honey. Water brings the structure forward as well as new, delicate top notes, but the former soon take charge. Leave neat, please. 

    Finish

    Long and elegant.

    Conclusion

    It has a slightly distant, wistful aspect. The sense of a day, a season, a life passing.

    Right place, right time

    ‘Right here in my reach, time is thick as stone
    and as thin as a flying strand.’
    – Alice Oswald, Marginalia at the Edge of the Evening

    Caperdonich 20 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Caperdonich 20 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Classic Caperdonich: American cream soda ice cream float, dandelion leaves, meadow grass, cucumber, green grapes on ice and a gentle chalkiness. With water you get a mist of iris and bluebell.

    Palate

    Gentle feel, rounded and slightly creamy, but not oak-driven; rather it’s reminiscent of cool rice pudding with apple compôte. Water makes it slightly more lacy in texture, but there is a pear-like persistence.

    Finish

    Silky and soft.

    Conclusion

    Not hugely complex, but utterly delicious.

    Right place, right time

    A 1950s café, Formica tables, leather booths, sunlight streaming through the window. Aye, it’s the University Café, Byres Road in Glasgow, on a spring afternoon. 

    Craigellachie 21 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Craigellachie 21 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Pungent, hugely oily (linseed); in fact, almost greasy, but in a nice way. A whiff of a well-hung pheasant (oh, behave). Those more extreme elements recede with water, leaving toffee- and strawberry-scented massage oils.

    Palate

    A soft start with some mint humbug, then toffee before those heavy oils surge forward. Robust, slightly leathery, with a touch of nuttiness. Water brings out some yew tree and then massive oak extract, which dominates and ultimately knocks the balance.

    Finish

    Bitter chocolate.

    Conclusion

    Teeters on the verge of the off, and as such draws you back in.

    Right place, right time

    Taking his vegetarian blind date to Meat Liquor might not have been such a smart idea.

    Inchmurrin 32 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Inchmurrin 32 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Cask-driven and weighty with a very nutty opening – peanut butter, cronut, then sweet leather, new sandals, light hazelnut butter. Water increases the bazaar element.

    Palate

    Big and oily, though firm on the sides of the mouth with a burnt, heavy roasted cereal element that shifts it towards a Scottish ale. Then comes hard toffee and a lick of leather. In time – and when diluted – it becomes oddly jammy as well; seed cake.

    Finish

    Lightly bitter, grippy, hint of mushroom.

    Conclusion

    An acquired taste. For consenting adults only.

    Right place, right time

    Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather. Take it away Lou.

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