Speyside distillery Benrinnes was founded in 1826, but was swiftly removed from the map by a massive flood in 1829. History wasn’t quite finished with the distillery however, and it was rebuilt just a few miles away. As part of the Diageo portfolio, original distillery bottlings of Benrinnes are rarely seen (a 15 year old from Flora & Fauna series being the most common), however independents have been bottling up this idiosyncratic malt for many years.
Today’s Benriness is an old one from Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseur’s Choice line of single malt whiskies. It was distilled way back in 1968 and bottled at 14 year of age.
Nose: Immediate polish, wood and a high volume of metals. Brass, copper and iron are joined by some light heathery honey, unripe apples and delicate orange peels. There’s a ton of polished wood here – lacquer and shellac. In the background we have some dustiness – quite sharp and presenting wet soils and old damp paper. Somewhat inviting, somewhat over the hill perhaps?
Taste: A solid arrival with good mouthfeel that brings in sharp and sour citrus, honey, polish and varnish (again) and bitter steeped tea. Metallic notes persist and are particularly coppery. In the background some light soapiness and florals and a touch of ginger spicing.
Finish: Medium in length, very woody and slightly astringent.
A mixed bag here. On the one hand I rather enjoy all things polish and woody, on the other, this seem to have gone too fat with both – deep metallic notes might indicate some old bottle effects in play, and likewise, the woodiness has gone quite bitter. It’s a lot less floral and meaty than I’d expect from a Benrinnes, and barring some gentle touches of honey, there’s not much sweetness to temper the astringency. Nevertheless, there’s still something about this bottling which appeals – particularly when you consider it was distilled in the same year that the Beatle’s released the White Album.