I’ve had a hard time remembering a time when my tasting notes differed so widely from the brand’s own for a bottle I actually liked (usually when the difference is this great, it’s a dumpster fire). The sample bottle I received tasted simply like The Original Ten that had a couple extra years on it. I did not pick up virtually any of the sugar or dark fruit notes that a sherried whisky or one aged in port casks should impart. To the contrary, I found the finish quite tart and dry. That being said, I quite liked this bottle and wouldn’t want people to think that it’s not worth a taste. Of the non-smoked whiskies coming out of Benriach right now, though, I believe The Original Ten to be a better value.
If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely seen this bottle in the #3 spot of the Whisky Advocate Top 20 Whiskies of 2020 list and have come to Bourbon & Banter as your one-stop-shop for some honest feedback.
Here’s what I’ll tell you: this whisky is like drinking a very good, mildly-sherried scotch while someone across the room from you is smoking a cigar that you think you’d like the smell of it were closer. I do not say that to imply that this is a bad whisky: it’s not. While it’s Nose is only solid, the Taste on this is really something special, and the Finish is really unique and enjoyable.
With all the press that The Smoky Twelve has been getting recently, I was anxious to find out if The Smoky Ten (which comes in 10 dollars cheaper) is as solid an offering from Benriach. If you’re making a lists of ‘Best Value Whiskies of 2020’ this deserves on a spot on it whether your list is 20 bottles long or 5.
All the bottles I was fortunate enough to try from Benriach are solid whiskies on their absolute worst days and I’m keen to try some more from them in the future. To me, the peated whiskies stand above their unpeated offerings in terms of quality, and the hero of this one is the wood management. Each cask that the spirit is aged in takes center stage at some point in the tasting. The Jamaican rum casks offer some brown sugar and a bit of chocolate to pair with the peat and smoke on the nose. The bourbon barrels give the palate just the right amount of spice. Lastly, the toasted virgin oak ties the finish up in a neat, little bow that really makes you want to start the whole thing over.
If you’re familiar with Speyside scotches, imagine paying 8 extra bucks for a slightly more bold Glenmorangie 10. That’s how I would describe this single malt. I always have a bottle of Glenmorangie 10 on my bar, and I prefer this bottle from BenRiach to it, because while the former’s solitary sweetness makes it more suitable for dessert, I found the sweetness in The Original Ten to be more well-rounded with a bit of spice. I think if you enjoy Scotches from Speyside, this is one versatile dram – equally suited to dinner or dessert. Check it out, let me know what you think and don’t forget to #drinkcurious!
I have made no secret of my love for independent bottlers and recently wrote an article for Bourbon & Banter where I lamented the fact that no one is doing with American whiskies what independent bottlers are able to do with Scotches. Just a few months later, a sample of Lost Lantern, Edition 1 appeared on my doorstep. I want to open this review with an admission: I really wanted to like this.
I have a goal of drinking a whiskey from every state in the union and so jumped at the chance to try this offering from Michigan. This first expression by Wonderland is a really interesting take on a blend in that each component is a straight whiskey and then those straight whiskies are blended together. To me, the rye is most noticeable on the nose and the wheat certainly takes center stage on the palate.
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While this, to me, is a poor man’s Japanese Harmony (which I also reviewed for Bourbon and Banter), it is not without its intrigue. If you research the use of Mizunara in whisky, you’ll find quite a bit of disdain for what Chivas is doing here. People say that the qualities that Japanese oak imparts on whisky can’t be rushed by using it as a “finishing” technique. While not being an expert on either whisky finishing or the qualities of woods that are grown half a world away, I think I respectfully disagree.
David James Spirits, out of Kentucky, is seemingly in that awkward adolescent phase that a lot of craft distillers must go through. Their website touts a “Purity focused” product that is in the works and that they are excited to put out in roughly three years. During this waiting time, distillers must make a choice: do they bottle some of their own juice while it’s young and maybe not up to their own standards, or do they outsource the aging to other distillers and bottle the work of someone else?
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