The BenRiach – Septendecim – 17 Year Old | 46% (92 Proof), $79.99/bottle (Here)
Color/Appearance: White wine. Light gold with the tiniest hint of warmth. Obviously no colorant and also no chill-filtration but it is nice to see this information clearly marked on the bottle. Refill bourbon casks only here. It’s great that more and more distillers, as well as customers, are comfortable with the natural look of this type of whisky. Bottle is not that interesting looking though it is worth pointing out that with the clear glass they really made no effort to hide the look of the whisky. No colored glass here. Gold highlights on the labels are a good design idea allowing the light color of this whisky to look its best. The bottle also mentions that they do their own floor maltings. Nice.
Nose: Gentle floral peat, peaches and cream, a small campfire, dry leaves piled in the yard, iodine soaked bandages, lemon polish and orange blossoms. It is rather intense and peaty but somehow seems more subtle than it sounds. The scent has some powerful elements but the 17 years have really done their magic, softening these rougher edges with elegance. This is a wonderful nose. The age of this spirit is really starting to make this shine.
Palate: Wood smoke, the neighbors just had their driveway paved, drying oak, key lime, ashy coals the morning after a campfire, dry bandages and graphite. This Speysider is a dram that will easily appeal to Islay lovers. BenRiach has given me notice. This takes the notes from the nose and ramps it up. More smoky peat than medicinal notes even with my mentions of bandages. There are some sweater malts notes blended in with this peat onslaught but they are more subservient and harder to tease out. Ginger lemonade. Nutmeg and black pepper spices end things with some nice zing.
Finish: Long lingering smoke with oaky dryness and subtle hints of those peaches. Lots of complexity as each sip brings something new to the forefront.
Overall: The nose of this whisky hints at the power within but on the palate it really has a chance to wow. The peat smoke and long ago charred oak have reached a beautiful balance. Synergistically enhancing each other, where the smoke from the peat fires and the fire used to char the bourbon barrels are one. The longer this bottle is open the more it opens up. After being open for about two weeks now, the character has changed rather significantly. The smoky tar like peaty notes still there but they are softer and I am getting much more peaches and cream. Smoke plumes evolving into smoked meats. Really now the overall balance is stepping to the forefront. Rather complex and amazing stuff. As the popularity of Islay whisky goes through the roof other less well know peaty whiskies are having a chance to get some of the spotlight. This is certainly one such whisky.