I’m back from the Springbank/BenRiach tasting at the Sportsman’s in Scottsdale, AZ; a combination Wine Bistro and Liquor store. For $35, we got a whisky cocktail, 8 samples from Springbank and BenRiach, a Riedel “O” glass, special pricing on the event drinks, and a $10 voucher good for the night. I met up with Sean from the Whisky Magazine forums and enjoyed sharing notes with him. The event was pretty good, but they moved things along a lot more quickly than the last one I went to. It started at 6:00pm, and they were finished with the selection by 7:15pm, at which point people got up and started shopping with their $10 vouchers. Sean and I were three drinks behind at one point. We took our time and ended up leaving about 8pm.
The official lineup (with my notes):
- Springbank 10, 100 proof; matured in 100% bourbon casks
- Closed nose until a few drops of water added. Sweet, with lots of vanilla. I was thinking white cake mix, but then Sean mentioned pancakes, and I could totally see that. Easy on the palate for a 50% abv, but a pretty short finish. I didn’t get any peat, and not much smoke. It was nice, but I was kind of disappointed.
- Springbank 15 (46%); matured in 60% sherry and 40% bourbon casks
- More going on with the nose on this one. The sherry isn’t very strong, providing fruit more along the lines of apricots than the red berries or dried red fruits that I normally expect with sherry. A little more smoke with this one. Nice body, with spices and a bit of pepper on the finish. I liked this much more than the 10 year 100 proof. I just wish it was less expensive.
- BenRiach 15 Madeira Wood Finish
- Some fruitiness on the nose that I expect with a sherried whisky, but more subdued. Also some vanilla. I didn’t note anything on the palate, but thought there was a little bit of dark chocolate bitterness. Sean, on the other hand, found it more bitter to the point of being a bit turned off.
- BenRiach 15 Pedro Ximinez Sherry Wood Finish
- Ahh…here’s the nose I like. I could sit and take this in all night. Nice red fruits from the sherry finish. More sherry and and fruit on the palate, with a hint of spices. No notes on the finish, but I don’t recall it being particularly long. I really enjoyed this one, but the normal pricing here is $93. I can just about get a Mac 18 for that.
- BenRiach 15 Dark Rum Wood Finish
- Wow. Not just a rum influence. This IS rum. Oh…and some kind of metalic flavor that turned me off. Next!
- BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus (46%); A 12 year peated with a dark rum finish, non-chill filtered and natural color.
- Completely different experience from the non-peated 15 year dark rum. Probably because the peat completely overpowers the rum influence. In a good way, too. This is a great, pure peat smell up front, mixed with a nice honey sweetness. More like the Longrow kind of peat than Islay. Plenty of smoke…an ashy smoke. Not a lot of rum influence. A real peat-lover’s whisky.
- BenRiach Herodotus Fumosus (46%); A 12 year peated with Pedro Ximinez finish, non-chill filtered and natural color.
- More great peat like with the Arumaticus, but the Pedro Ximinez influence is much more noticeable than the dark rum was. I usually dig PX influence, like with Lagavulin DE, but in this case, I preferred the nose of the rum finish. On the other hand, the palate on this Herodotus was spicier and stronger. I’d like to combine the nose of the Arumaticus with the palate/finish of the Herodotus.
As a bonus, they brought out our Riedel “O” glasses at the end with a sample of:
- BenRiach Authenticus Peated 21 year old
- Mmm, mmm, good. The pure peat from the 12 year olds has been refined over the additional 9 years and integrated with the rest of the flavors. This one reminds me more of an Islay malt than the younger ones did, more reminiscent of Ardbeg than Longrow. It was VERY enjoyable. I downed this a little quicker than I would have liked, as everybody else was finished by the time I got to this. I’m putting it on my “want to buy” list, although I thought it was priced a bit high even with the event pricing ($146).
- Springbank and BenRiach are expensive in Arizona
- I just noticed that I kept feeling inclined to point out the price of the whiskies I liked. My general feeling was that, while there was some good stuff here, it’s priced too high relative to some of the competition (at least based on local prices).
- Best whisky of the night:
- BenRiach Authenticus
- Worst whisky of the night:
- Easily the BenRiach 15 Dark Rum finish
- Biggest disappointment:
- Didn’t seem to get much out of the Springbank 10, 100 proof. I expected much more.
- Most pleasant surprise:
- The 12 year peated BenRiachs. I really dig this particular presentation of peat. I had read somewhat mediocre reviews of these on Whiskyfun, so wasn’t expecting much. I bought a bottle of the Arumaticus Fumosus for $63, taking advantage of event pricing. We’ll see if I like it as much at home, and I’m looking forward to comparing this to my Longrow CV.