BenRiach distillery is well known for weird and innovative experiments with their whisky – myriad of distillations (double and triple), heavy peated, peated and unpeated releases, different wood finishes and that leads to a few duds but also some kick ass whiskies over the last decade, led by the famous annual batch releases.
This year we were treated to a trio of new releases – peated whisky finished in different spirit barrels: PX sherry, Dark rum and Madeira. Those expressions are quite a success from the business side as it’s not easy to get a bottle of those releases. They fly off the shelves in mere days (or minutes) due to high demand and somewhat limited availability. The smallest release of them is the 18 yo Dunder, the Dark Rum finish expression, with only 1888 bottles in circulation.
But luckily for me (and you), I had the opportunity to taste it at the MMI whisky club monthly meeting so here is my review:
BenRiach 18 Year Old Dunder (46%, 1888 bottles)
Nose: Soft earthly and clean peat with it does have some high spikes in peat strength. After a minute or two in the glass there’s sweet caramel and also nice dark brown sugar note – feels very balanced yet a bit flat. I decided to give it (lots of) extra time in the glass and was rewarded with ripe banana & green banana peels notes. Heck, there were even some floral notes sneak ins.
Palate: Peat, strong and crisp peat with a bit of sweet demerara sugar and caramel. and that’s it.
Finish: Medium length with lingering peat, soot, ash and sweet sugar.
Thoughts: I’m disappointed. I expected something grand and a lovely combination of peat and rum sweetness but only the nose is delivering this promise and only barely. The palate is unbalanced with too much peat and low key sweetness (and other notes). It doesn’t stand up to the quality of other peated BenRiach expressions that were finished in other spirits casks like Solstice or Albariza. This bottling is sought after and hard to find but I think you can stop chasing it, go buy/hunt something else.