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Benrinnes

Treasurer's Selection Benrinnes 1995, 19 year old (70cl 50.5%)

€147.93 $156.94 £125.00

Fresh Fruit

Citrus, berries, apple, pear

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Speyside region, fruity flavours are also common in the Islands (so long as peat does not dominate) and in many Lowland single malts. It is a curious coincidence to find overt flavours of fruits in a spirit made from grain, and therefore of a completely different provenance to brandy or wine: these flavours of fresh fruit - to be distinguished from the drier flavours of raisins, red grape or fruitcake that derive from sherry-cask maturation and are grouped under the ‘dried fruit’ tag - owe much to the influence of ex-bourbon barrels made from American Oak. These casks generally produce vibrant aromas with a far lighter and fresher character than the heavy, dry European Oak sherry casks: tropical fruits, such as pineapple, kiwi or coconut, are a common comparison.

Some whiskies present clear flavours of apple or pear, such as Glenfiddich 12-year-old and many other Speyside whiskies in a similar style (our Treasurer’s Selection Benrinnes is an excellent example). Others tend towards a tarter citrus flavour, such as the orange notes in Dalmore or the tropical fruits of Arran. Flavours of red berries often derive from wine casks - raspberry, strawberry or cherry are common flavours in port-cask matured whiskies (see e.g. Balvenie Portwood or Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban), while drier flavours of cranberry or red plum may result from various red wine finishes (e.g. Longrow Red, or many of the wine cask expressions from Edradour). It is a wide-ranging set of flavours with all sorts of possible incarnations, and a good test for the learner’s palate: it is easy to define a whisky as tasting ‘fruity’, but is it fresh fruit or dried? Apple, citrus or berry? Raspberry, blackberry or boysenberry…?

Some cigars have slightly fruity flavours themselves, which are an obvious pairing: consider the floral flavours of Romeo y Julieta or San Cristobal, for example. Grassy or sweet flavours may also complement this diverse and expressive flavour profile.

Malt

Cereal, floral notes, nuts

The malted barley from which single malt is made has a distinctive flavour of its own, which can often still be clearly tasted after many years of maturation. In comparison to rye or the corn of bourbon, it is quite a savoury flavour, an ideal canvas for the multifaceted influences of different wood types which make single malt Scotch so diverse. Similar flavours often found in single malt are those of nuts, such as almond and hazelnut, and a floral or grassy aroma much like that of the Highland meadows where the barley is grown.

These malty flavours are often strongest in the bold and powerful Highland drams, where cask type and still shape are aimed towards emphasising the natural kick of the barley. The influence of Oloroso casks often imparts that same nuttiness that is so distinctive of the sherry itself, meaning that this set of flavours may be found in both young whiskies (where the barley has yet to be swamped by the influence of the cask) and in certain older expressions (when matured in Oloroso casks).

Scotland’s favourite single malt, Glenmorangie Original, is perhaps the archetypical example of the light and grassy style that is one possible embodiment of this flavour profile. Its bolder Highland brethren, not least those of the Eastern Highlands like Glen Garioch, Royal Lochnagar, and Glencadam, proudly bear the stamp of their grain. It is also present in many of the Speyside whiskies which play down their fruity elements in favour of something more bold and meaty, such as Benrinnes or Mortlach. The flavour pairs well with many common cigar flavours, such as grass, nuts, or toast.

Wood

Sherry casks, cedar, mahogany, cigar box

Whisky, by definition, is a grain spirit aged in oak casks - and it is the influence of this wood that produces they greatest variation of flavour. Different species of oak result in different flavours, while the previous contents of the cask has a major impact on the style of the resulting Scotch. A whisky may spend anything from three years to thirty years in wood - in some extreme cases even longer than that. Yet there are only certain cases where the resulting spirit can be said to ‘taste of wood’.

The most obvious example is when the whisky has been aged for an exceptionally long time. Conventional whisky wisdom claims that any period of ageing beyond about 25 years is wasted or even detrimental, because the spirit begins to taste more like the wood it is stored in than anything else. As a result, subtleties of flavour built up over years of maturation will be lost as the wood takes over. A certain amount of woody flavours may be desirable, however, not least because it implies that a whisky has spent a considerable amount of time ageing and has likely reached the peak of its complexity. For this reason, single malts over 25 years of age are relatively scarce (not to mention expensive), but often in high demand.

The wood of the cask imparts tannins to the spirit inside: tannins are a compound that produce a dry or astringent flavour, as found in red wine, unripened fruit, black tea…and heavily oak-influenced whisky. This means the flavours in question may be found in whisky aged in wine-influenced casks, such as those which have previously held sherry, port or red wine, as opposed to bourbon; therefore it is not always necessary for a whisky to have been aged for a very long time in order for woody flavours to be apparent. Notes of mahogany, cigar box cedar-wood or varnish are relatively common among the more savoury styles of single malt, such as complex Speysides or some Islay whiskies.

Wood is also a common flavour in many cigars, which can be expected to pair well with a woody whisky: Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo are both excellent examples, while Fonseca and Diplomaticos are good choices among the lesser known brands.

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Age - 19 year old
Year - 1995
Cask - no. 9095
Limited to 312 bottles
UnChill-Filtered Treasurer Selection

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Product Info

Age - 19 year old
Year - 1995
Cask - no. 9095
Limited to 312 bottles
UnChill-Filtered Treasurer Selection

A progression of glorious, juicy fruits. On the nose, coronation pears and foam banana sweets mingle with mint tea, spearmint, and boiled sweets; a burst of fizzy apple sours on the smooth, mouth-filling palate; morphing into darker, richer dried fruits on the finish (sultanas, gala apple), complemented with delicious buttery sweet popcorn and a touch of lingering sandalwood. Huge sweetness, with intriguing layers of complexity, offering something for those with a sweet-tooth and thrill-seekers alike.

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