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.
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.
This Travel Retail 700ml bottle, with no age statement, arrives with basically no information on its label about its make-up or provenance. The Internet has revealed that it is comprised of both ex-sherry (the majority) and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at Distillery Manager Bob Dalgarno’s preferred strength of 42.8% ABV. … In an effort to harken back to traditional styles of single malt scotch, Bob sourced some barrels of Macallan distilled from the now-defunct Golden Promise strain of barley. While the bottle does not state an age, it is (according to Bob) comprised of Macallan aged 12 years and up, with “some much older”.
Bland, and somewhat bitter. Not a successful malt. This should probably not have been saved from the mountain of “blending fodder” barrels for which it was no doubt originally destined. There are no redeeming florals, fruits, or even cloying sweets. Instead, it mostly just tastes like insipid wood and alcohol. If you’re standing in a Trader Joe’s right now, trying to make a decision, I’ll make it for you: Get the 12 year-old Highland (psst! It’s from Deanston) instead.
The 15 is interesting. It’s widely-distributed, very cost-effective for a 15 year-old malt, and has something that no other (or almost no other) scotch on the market has: malt from a modified sherry-style Solera system. It’s miles ahead in quality from Glenfiddich 12 (which is just passably drinkable), but still usually under $50
Okay so this is very pleasant single malt whisky. It is light and airy, vibrant and youthful (in a good way), and with an array of flowers and fruits that scream “Springtime!” while never becoming cloying, bitter, or overbearing. That said, this is no sherry-bomb. There are no dense red fruits, figs, currants, resin, or anything else commonly associated with the older sherried malts.
The Fine Oak series, launched in 2004, offered a look at Macallan with some of the sherry stripped away. Like The Balvenie DoubleWood, the Fine Oak series is a marriage of traditional Macallan matured in ex-sherry casks, with Macallan distillate aged in ex-bourbon.
I did not expect this level of peat from Linkwood. While it teases on the nose, it makes itself felt once it hits the tongue. A nice example of the hay-and-heather style of Highland peated malt, which is representative of the style of Highland malt made before the advent of maltings with non-peat heat sources.
While it pales in a side-to-side comparison with classical sherry-aged Mortlach like the G&M 15 year, this Murray bottling stands on its own with a very pleasing combination of roasted/toasted/meaty flavors and without cloying sweetness on the palate.
A stately, refined example of sherried Mortlach. Something about this distillery speaks of the Scotland of yore. Having never experienced the Scotland of yore, I can only assume it’s the combination of excellent sherry casks with the meaty, oily, rough-around-the-edges malt of Mortlach that gives me the impression.