Benriach distilled towards the tail end of Billy Walker’s time at the helm of the distillery – initially matured in ex-bourbon and then given a short additional stopover inside a sherry octave. Botted at 56.8% ABV with 230 bottles available (shortly I believe) this will set you back £50 for a 50cl bottle.
Nose: Immediate and prominent salted caramel alongside a sugar-dusted berry strudel fresh from the oven. Tangerine zest provides a pep, whilst a stack of griddled pancakes and a plate of shortbread add rich and sweet treats. Straight-forward, but quite appealing. Dilution offers less definition and brightness, pushing darker fruits – blackberries and plums to the fore alongside orange peels and breakfast cereals.
Taste: We’ve had the sweetness on the nose – so I guess now is the time for the spice. Aromatic and forceful – stem ginger, pepper and cloves with a split red chilli providing heat and prickle. Fruits try to push through – nectarines, apples and pears – all nicely reduced – whilst burnt caramel, cask char and golden barely all hark to the ex-bourbon origins of the spirit. Water takes the edge off the spice, but it also favours the cask over the distillate – toffee and malty undertones alongside sawdust, freshly planed oak and pencil shavings.
Finish: quite long with pepper and ginger spiced fruit lingering and a domineering oakiness.
The nose of this Benriach Darkness 7 year old is really rather lovely and alluring – however the palate is less inclined to give you a hug and more persuaded to punch you in the face with spicy heat. It’s certainly impactful – but it’s a bit too extreme for my palate – and likewise proves tricky to tame without at the same time manifesting too much of the cask.
Review sample provided by Atom Brands