Benrinnes, 7 Years Old, 59% ABV, Highlander Inn Maggie's Collection Bottled For Taiwan Market
FRUITY AND SPICY
Note: We assign every bottle we review to one of five Flavour Camps, based on the most dominant flavours found. The Flavour Camps are : (1) Fragrant and Floral, (2) Fruity and Spicy, (3) Malty and Dry, (4) Rich and Round and (5) Smokey and Peaty. To learn more about each Flavour Camp, please click here.
The artwork depicts the distillery during the winter. (Image Source: wenhotw.com)
This is a Speysider, Benrinnes, bottled by the Highlander Inn, a rest stop with a hotel and a world class whisky bar, run by the affable Tatsuya Minagawa, located at the heart of the Scotch Whisky trail, in Craigellachie.
Tatsuya-san has been running three collections under the Highlander Inn brand - the Highlander Inn Single Cask Annual Releases, Maggie's Collection and Oishii Wisukii. This Benrinnes comes from Maggie's Collection, a collection that started out featuring labels drawn by local artist Maggie Riegler. This was up until 2012, when artist Hans Doillesse took over. Maggie's Collection was also designed to have each bottle be exclusive for a single market, in the case of this Benrinnes, it was bottled for Taiwan.
(Image Source: Whiskybase)
Now, alittle about Benrinnes, after all I don't suppose it's a name too many would be familiar with, given that there has only ever been one widely available official bottling (a few also came out under the Manager's Dram and Special Releases range but fairly pricey) from the distillery itself since its time in Diageo's stable, the bulk of it going into the Johnnie Walker blends. Benrinnes Distillery takes its name from the hill it is located at the foot of, Ben Rinnes. For a period of time, up until 2007, it featured triple distillation, and going further back, the distillery was actually rebuilt several times due to floods, fires, general hazards.
Benrinnes Distillery. (Image Source: Whisky.com)
Not too much is known about what the distillery's core flavor profile is, but most IBs tend to see it go down fruity and spicy, and fairly light to medium-bodied. This is probably due to the shape of the pot stills, designed to reduce reflux, creating a lighter whisky, and also their wash stills are more than double the size of their spirit stills.
This was one tasted alongside the man himself, Tatsuya-san. Providing some color on this bottling, I'm told it was matured in a refill European Sherry butt. Alright, let's get to it.
Color: Slightly deeper yellow, Chrysanthemum tea.
Nose: Instantly fragrant, the first note that comes to mind is elderflowers and a light honeyed touch. The secondary notes are heaps of fruits, orange zest, apples, kiwis, very bright but just ripened. I'm quite surprised that it isn't hot at all, given that it punches in at 59% ABV.
A light touch of fruit salad. (Image Source: Food Network)
Going deeper, there are richer notes of clotted cream, vanilla pods, and generally a very nice honeyed scent that carries throughout the nose. Ricotta, figs, pine nuts and honey drizzle on bruschetta, anyone?
Creamy, sweet touches as well, reminding me of a fig, ricotta, pine nuts bruschetta medley drizzled with honey. (Image Source: Freepik)
As innocent as the nose seems, given its youth, I'm cautiously suspicious that the palate will be something else altogether.
Palate: Taking a cautious sip, very punchy! The flavors are very clean and well-defined, carried through a velvety, buttery texture. Again, not very hot at all.
Creaminess ensues with a good dose of baking spices. (Image Source: Downshiftology)
There are lots of baking spices here, cinnamon, nutmeg, I'd even say light chilli flakes. There's alot of vanilla here as well and a slight woody oakyness. Here it reminds me alot of eggnog actually. But the texture so far has really been standout.
More deeper base notes now, raisin bread dough, light sherry notes but very restrained. Generally very bread-y and dough-y.
Fragrant, light drying tea black tea notes.
Second sip brings tea notes, oolong and some of that tea tannins that cuts through the oiliness. It doesn't get too cloying.
Airing it more (I left it out for almost 5 minutes), it develops more juiciness, with tropical fruit notes emerging - pineapples, in particular are quite apparent.
Hold up, 5 minutes in I'm getting tropical vibes of sliced pineapples. (Image Source: Immaculate Bites)
Finish: The finish brings the same drying tea notes, woody notes from the oak, and a meaty oiliness that is reminiscent of prosciutto fat.
There's a meaty umami oiliness that supports the lighter fruity, floral flavors. (Image Source: LoveFood)
Benrinnes isn't one of those distilleries you think too much about when you think Speyside, which to be fair, is overcrowded with the biggies. To add to its unwitting lowkey profile, Diageo has hardly ever focused any promotional budget to giving the distillery some presence. So with the lack of too much awareness of the distillery, I had wondered what this would bring. And y'know what sometimes it's a good thing, because with well-known distilleries, there's almost a sort of pre-determined view by the purists that unfortunately will play some role in colouring our opinion. When you have nothing to fall back on, you actually evaluate the whisky from scratch.
The only official bottling of Benrinnes coming from the Flora & Fauna line by Diageo. (Image Source: WhiskyTastings.Tumblr)
With this one, I truly didn't know what to expect, it's my first Benrinnes. And I enjoyed it thoroughly! There's a finesse to it, which you could have been fooled by the young age, but the Sherry influence was very restrained, allowing more of the distillery's own character to shine, bringing lots of sweet, fragrant, fruity notes, but wait! What really stuck to me was that meatiness that was present as well. The best way I could describe it was something like prosciutto fat. It was nowhere overwhelming but it really supported the otherwise brighter notes and gave the whisky alot more balance and well-roundedness.
A pretty good food representation of what this whisky sort of is - prosciutto, melons, ricotta. (Image Source: Girl With The Iron Cast)
On top of that, given its 59% ABV, it was very moderate in terms of heat, it was there to be clear, but very, very controlled. It allowed all the nice bright notes and the heavier meaty notes to really come forth. Its evolution as it aired was also something that piqued me, bringing out tropical fruits after some airing. I found that very interesting.
Fresh, floral, fruity, with a good meaty base and a side of raisin bread dough. Great flavors, standout texture.
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