It seems that just about every distillery is frantically blending and selecting barrels for one-offs, while their interns are leafing through Gaelic almanacs in the local archive, looking for thus-far unused local landmark names. … Even if you find consistent reviews online, tasting is very subjective [and] “Worth my money” is an impossible metric to crowdsource.
For Benromach’s Imperial Proof bottling, which is part of the distillery’s classic lineup, this same whisky is bottled at 57% ABV instead of 43%. This is 100° in British (or “Imperial”) proof. The sherry barrels are sourced from Bodegas Williams & Humbert in Jerez, and the whisky is bottled without added color or chill-filtration.
The 10-year flagship bottling was aged for 9 years in a combination of 80% ex-bourbon and 20% ex-sherry casks (all first-fill), and then married for 1 additional year in first-fill European oak oloroso sherry casks. … The distillery uses malt peated to a delicate 12 – 14 ppm using Highland peat. The result is bottled at 43% ABV with no added color.
…now they’ve added a permanent port-finished NAS expression with the double-entendre of a name, “Port Ruighe”. … Suffice it to say this is NAS Talisker aged in a combination of casks including ex-bourbon, refill European oak, and casks with a “heavy char”. The whisky is then finished in port casks and bottled at Talisker’s standard 45.8% ABV.
I think of Glenkinchie, one of the few remaining Lowland single malts, as “the lemon malt”, although its actual nickname is “The Edinburgh Malt” for its location some 15 miles from the capital of Scotland. Glenkinchie was relatively obscure (used mostly in blends) before it became one of the jewels in Diageo’s Classic Malts crown, representing the Lowlands.
A straightforward but very well-executed malt. This is a quintessential ex-bourbon Highland malt, with primary characteristics of summer fruits, flowers, and honey. … In this way, with no peat or sherry or wine-cask influence, you can appreciate the elemental building blocks of single-malt.
A mid-line sherried malt, without the “big fruit” hallmarks of a true sherry monster, but with plenty of berry, wine, and resin to produce the desired effect. The fruits are subdued, but do contain that aged, balsamic, resinous quality, and are balanced by slight malty sweetness. This is the kind of drink you reach for when you want to lean back and relax on a chilly winter evening, but not necessarily think too hard about what’s in your glass.
I love myself a good Sauternes cask finish, and this Arran doesn’t disappoint … aged for 8 years in standard ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to a “selection” of Sauternes casks for an undisclosed amount of time before bottling at a laudable 50% ABV and without chill-filtration or added coloring.
This is an exemplar of the category of unpeated single malts aged exclusively in ex-bourbon. Unlike some other Speyside ex-bourbon malts, which are more like blank canvases that need a little sherry to bring them to their full potential, The BenRiach 12 showcases the twin effects of good ex-bourbon aging: clarity of grain and sweetness of oak.
Upstart farm distillery Kilchoman has added a new single malt to its permanent portfolio, next to one of my favorites, Machir Bay. Kilchoman specializes in pristine craft peated malt that is remarkable for being excellent at a young age – like 3 or 4 years young. Like Machir Bay, this is partially sherry-aged. In Sanaig’s case, it’s an extra 10 months of aging in oloroso sherry casks.