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BenRiach

Benriach 10 Year Old

€43.85 $48.99 £38.50

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.

Spice

Pepper, cinnamon, ginger, herbs

Aged Scotch whisky is often much softer and easier on the palate than its alcohol strength would imply. So much so, in fact, that sometimes you need something to liven things up a bit. Luckily, a good number of single malts possess lively spicy flavours, some of them in great enough quantities to challenge tequila (naming no names). Others are a little more restrained, but still with the warming tingle of Christmas pudding and mulled wine.

A lengthy maturation, particularly in a large cask (e.g. ex-sherry), generally means more oxygen is allowed into the cask to react with the spirit and develop more complex flavours. These may include spicy flavours - lignin compounds break down over time, releasing more intense spicy notes into the spirit, while the high acidity and relatively low alcohol content of sherry often serve to bring out spicier notes from the cask wood. Clove and cinnamon flavours often derive from eugenols produced via toasting - that is, firing the wood of the casks over a medium heat for anything between 15 to 45 minutes (to be contrasted with charring, where the wood is fired for a very short time over a much hotter flame). Some of the most intense spicy flavours come not from the cask at all, but from the still: a lighter spirit (such as that produced in a tall still) will often have more kick than something more rounded.

Spicy characteristics are generally used to complement other strong flavours, such as dried fruit (e.g. Aberlour) or peat (Ardbeg), but the style is probably best showcased by the expansive and varied Highland region. Highland malts generally eschew excessive subtlety for bold and full flavours, and so often showcase strongly spicy styles. The best examples by far are in the Northern Highlands: Glenmorangie has a light spice that is perhaps better described as herbal; but a small distance to the north, Clynelish and Old Pulteney provide a salty, firey yet still sweet style that prickles all over the palate. Their eastern counterparts, such as Glen Garioch or Glendronach, retain a gingery warmth that it is not so much restorative as elixir.

The strength and spark of such potions pairs very well with similarly lively cigars: Partagas is an obvious match, as is Ramon Allones; but the peppery notes of a Cohiba or Bolivar will also go very well.

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.

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Benriach 10 Year Old Single Speyside Malt Scotch Whisky. Non chill-filtered, natural colour.

70cl, 43% vol.

Tasting Notes

Colour - Crisp summer gold

Nose - A fresh and lively combination of crisp, green orchard fruits, stem ginger and hints of tangerine mellows to creamy vanilla with a delicate note of mint and a gentle twist of citrus, all held together with a sweet barley back note.

Taste - Warm toasted oak spices flood through green apple skins and dried apricots, ripening to hints of peach and soft banana. Subtle touches of aniseed and lemon zest create a contrasting edge to the fruit and add an intriguing character to the long, crisp barley finish.

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