It’s time to make a dent in the back log of samples and notes waiting to be published. For today I’ve picked the BenRiach 21 Years Old Matured in four different casks since such a high count of different casks seems to be getting a tad more popular lately (Yes, Laphroaig Four Oak and Jura Seven Oak, I’m looking at you).
This whisky was aged in four different casks: Bourbon, Virgin Oak, PX and Red Wine Casks and then was blended together by BenRiach master blender, Rachel Barrie and bottled at 46%.
The BenRiach 21 Years Old is one of the first new products Rachel Barrie, formerly of Bowmore Morrison Distillers, created for BenRiach when she joined the BenRiach group (also consisting of Glendronach and Glenglassaugh), but we don’t know much about how was the whisky was splitted between the casks not the time period it spent in each cask type (was a portion of the whisky here fully matured in virgin oak for 21 years?).
Let’s check it out and see how the casks shaped this whisky.
Nose: Sweet, lots of nuttiness: with nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon, honey, pears and peaches, a bit of gooseberries, strong vanilla note like the tip of iceberg (promise for much more below surface). Then the virgin oak sweetness and oak spices shows up but it’s kept in check and isn’t overpowering, a touch of coconut. After a few minutes more spices, pepper and cooked cinnamon.
Palate: Started with sweet oak, becomes fruity with peaches and pears and then spices galore, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and oak spices. Semi dry. With time lots of peardrops and endless cinnamon note towards the end.
Finish: Medium length, dry, lingering peaches sweetness with strong cinnamon, nuts and spices.
Thoughts: I approached this whisky very cautiously because when multiple oak casks are involved in a whisky creation, there’s a higher probability for imbalance in the whisky flavours or a washed down sensory experience (AKA boring). But here it works great- there’s a baseline fruitiness (peaches and pears), sherry spices, oak spices from virgin oak,coconut and vanilla from bourbon – all meshed together creating a refreshing, balanced and matured whisky. Well done Rachel Barrie.