Bought: Auriol Wines, 11th August 2017
87.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
81.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 129 member votes)
88/100 – Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com)
When my interest in whisky was rekindled in 2013 it came with an inherited love of Highland Park, Scapa, Talisker, Macallan and Linkwood. These were whiskies my uncles introduced me to, which I like but I felt it was important to try new things and discovered what truly tickles my palate. In the last 4 years I’ve tasted many great whiskies and BenRiach is right up there with them. I’d still say that Scapa and Talisker are in my top 5 but Springbank, Bunnahabhain and the outstanding Aberlour A’bunadh are fighting Highland Park, Macallan and Linkwood hard. Glendronach and BenRiach are knocking at the door of my affections, and they’re always a pleasure to sip.
Ralfy recently reviewed the BenRiach 10yo and gave it a fantastic 88/100. This is very similar to Jim Murray’s score of 87.5/100 in his Whisky Bible, which classifies this single malt as ‘very good to excellent whisky, definitely worth buying’. Jim Murray says, “a much fatter spirit than from any time when I worked those stills. The dry nose never quite decided where it is going. But there’s no doubting the creamy yet juicy credentials on the palate. Malty, with graceful fruit sugars chipping in delightfully.”
Scoring nearly 82/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score but almost what you’d expect for a 10-year-old. If I have one criticism about using a score from Whiskybase it’s that a lot of voters simply mark a whisky based on what would be expected for its age. This means that scores from experts like Ralfy and Mr Murray would get dragged down to something typical rather than exceptional.
Comments on ‘Master of Malt’ include “just classic Speyside, raisins, apples, cinnamon, oak, even a hint of peaches all work in harmony”, “really decent drop for the price”, “enjoyed this well enough, especially at 43% and non-chillfiltered” and “it’s a touch more sprightly than the 12yo but it’s somehow richer at the same time. Time and time again this distillery keeps coming up trumps.” I couldn’t agree more!
Here’s Ralfy on YouTube with his review of the BenRiach 10yo (July 2017):
Bought: Aberdeen Whisky Shop, 11th September 2015
95.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.14/100 – Whiskybase (average from 525 member votes)
If I were to list my top 10 whiskies to have in the sideboard the BenRiach 12yo would be one of them. It ticks the boxes for quality and budget, which make it ideal as a regular sipper. But saying that I see prices are on the increase. I bought my bottle for £32.50 but 18 months later it’s up to £41.50. A sign of the times or is BenRiach becoming more exclusive?
Scoring 95.5/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is a fantastic score and classifies this quality 12yo as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. In the author’s opinion it beats other standard distillery 12yos such as the Glenfiddich (85.5/100), Old Pulteney (90.5/100), Highland Park (78/100), Glendronach (92/100), Glenfarclas (94/100), Glengoyne (91.5/100) and even the new and acclaimed Glen Grant (95/100). Mr Murray says about the BenRiach taste “quite magnificent! How I pray whiskies to be on delivery, but find they so rarely are. Some caramels are caught up in the genteel squabble between the grape juice and the rich barley.” He concludes with “a celebration of a malt whisky in more ways than you could believe.”
Scoring just over 83/100 on Whiskybase is a very good mark but not to the same degree as the Whisky Bible. Comments include “beautiful entrance to sherried single malts”, “a pleasant whisky with an easy-to-drink character” and “this is a seriously good core range whisky and considering the price, it’s a great bang for the buck.”
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts on YouTube (December 2014):
Bought: Auriol Wines, 8th August 2016
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
84.52/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)
The look of BenRiach that we know today started when the company was taken over in 2004 by a consortium of businessmen lead by whisky veteran Billy Walker. In June 2016 the sale of BenRiach along with Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries was confirmed. Although the new owners say they intend to keep things pretty much as they are, fans of these distilleries might be a little concerned. It could mean good news for collectors if standards slip and bottles bought today are classics of the future but I’ll be sad if the quality of the whisky diminishes from any of these distilleries. I might collect whisky but I firmly wear my drinker’s hat when buying bottles of BenRiach and Glendronach. Their current output is some of the best single malt on the market in my opinion.
My 15yo Tawny Port appeared in 2012 and 89.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies it as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. The author, Jim Murray, says of the taste “comes together on the pallet with a rare degree of grace. The kicking expected from the fruit never materialises and instead there is a soft malt and firm fruit double whammy; the fruit and nut chocolate arrives earlier than expected.” He concludes with “now that really is the perfect late night dram”.
Over 84.5/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score. Here are the tasting notes from the guys at Master of Malt:
Nose: Aromatic, port wood notes at the fore developing into a phenolic element, a little bitumen perhaps.
Palate: Sweet and firm, grape and oily smoke, sweetness develops, grapey.
Finish: Oak, smoke and a touch more phenol.
Bought – Single Malts Direct, 3rd October 2013
90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
81.53/100 – Whiskybase (average from 60 member votes)
8.5/10 – Jo of Whisky Wednesday (his video review below)
This BenRiach went onto my wishlist when I read about it in Ian Buxton’s book “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die”. With a hint of latin in its name you feel the BenRiach distillery should be located closer to the Roman remains of Hadrian’s Wall, rather then up north near Elgin. But what makes this whisky a curiosity is that it’s an experimental ‘heavily peated’ Speysider. Jim Murray likes it with 90.5/100 but I was disappointed to read in his comments that, when the Curiositas first appeared, it was 46% which has now been ‘watered down’ to 40%. Nevertheless, a worthy one for the collection!
Here is Jo from Whisky Wednesday giving us his thoughts about the new 40% Curiositas on You Tube (May 2013):