I haven’t been kind to BenRiach as of late. Kind I have not been, but fair.. that I have. As it stands, the core range at 16 years and under are uninspiring, and I would never buy a bottle for the cabinet. The 20 year old is another story, and at $80, very affordable for a 20yr. That said, I’d rather spend such money on a 20yo Bladnoch at cask strength, given the choice.
Cue the Curiositas. An inexpensive peated Speyside that has picked up some attention and high praise in the whisky community. At $64, I decided to try it. I have not been disappointed. It comes off rather like a sweet heavily-peated Islay than a peated sweet Speyside. Where I draw the line here is in how the peat comes across. In peated non-Islays, they always come across as rather synthetic peat to my tastes. That is, the peat has been noticeably ‘added’ in some way. Islays, on the other hand, feel so organically joined, the spirit and the peat. They’ve done some good work here at BenRiach, and at such a young age. Puts my faith back in the distillery.
Nose: Peat and smoke upfront. A true Islay nose. Banana bread. That’s right, you heard me: banana bread. This might be why I love it so much. Cinnamon. A couple drops of water opens it all up nicely.
Palate: The peat is there, but it takes a backseat to the BBQ smoke.
Finish: Long and pleasant.
I can’t fault this whisky in many ways: it’s delicious, and a great wood-fired dessert dram that works both in the winter, and as the sunsets on a cooler summer evening. If all your new releases have this quality/price ratio, BenRiach, you can be sure that I’ll be picking up what you’re putting down.