BenRiach is a Speyside distillery that recently underwent significant renovations and was reopened after a period of inactivity. ‘Curiositas’ is so named because relatively few Speyside malts are peated, especially to this degree. It is not exactly an attempt to imitate the Islay style, which often has more maritime flavors of seaweed, brine, and iodine. Instead, BenRiach seems to be experimenting with the earthy, woody aspects of peating.
Color is a pale straw yellow, lighter even than a Sauvignon Blanc wine.
The peat is evident in the aroma, although not as smoke-heavy as a Laphroaig. There is some cherry in the scent, and a suggestion of Grapefruit or blood orange. The peat is complicated by an overtone of wood varnish.
The palate is crisp and focused, with a little minerality, very little sugar, and an equal helping of peat and a cereal quality like Mexican beer. Some lime and limestone develops on the tongue, along with a medicinal bitterness. I also taste grape skins or seeds – reminiscent of Grappa.
The finish is oaky but without vanilla, and is short to medium in length.
With a dash of water, this Scotch becomes more aromatic and a little less mineral. The flavors are challenging, but the complexity will grow on you.