The BenRiach PX Sherry Finished (15 year)

Sigh. It wasn’t until I began writing this review that I discovered this bottle was a limited release and isn’t available anymore. This has happened before. I’ve had a mixed relationship with The BenRiach, from utterly disliking their 10 year-old peated Curiositas (in the face of a lot of Internet fanfare), to downright loving the purely ex-bourbon 12 year-old bottling, which is now ALSO discontinued. It’s hard to pin down a distillery when half of the products you’ve enjoyed are gone, and when they release everything from unpeated ex-bourbon malts to heavy sherry bombs, including both sherried and unsherried heavily peated malts. They do everything, but not (in my opinion) everything well.

How can you have confidence at the liquor store, when you’re not sure whether the next fresh-faced BenRiach is going to be heavenly or a bomb? Onward, I guess, to a review of a whisky you can’t buy any more, and which will conclude with me suggesting that you Must Try it. What a jerk, I don’t know why you people even read what I write…

BenRiach’s chameleon malt has, in this case begun life unpeated and spent an undisclosed amount of time (probably more than 12 years) in ex-bourbon before being transitioned into a Pedro Ximénez sherry butt to mature for additional time, totaling 15 years. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration or added coloring (a practice collectively known as ‘Craft Presentation’). It retailed at the time of its release for around $50, which is pretty reasonable these days for a 15 year-old single malt, especially a sherried one.

Nose: Delectable, bursting red fruits. Fresh jellies rather than jams, raspberry coulis, red currants, fresh blackberries, real maraschino cherries. Mild buttery toffee, and a very mild nose tickle.

Palate: Medium-bodied. Coconut meat, stewed fruits (pie filling), and hints of some of the fresh fruit notes from the aroma. Mild to moderate tongue burn. Some caramelized sugars and a layer of oak-tinted malt. Sweet, but not cloying.

Finish: Long. Some charcoal and a mouth-drying coat of oaky tannins. The fruits fade quickly, leaving the wood notes to linger. These eventually evolve into marshmallow and a ghost of black licorice.

With Water: Several drops of water initially mute the aroma, necessitating a rest in the glass. Even after a rest, the aromas are shy and the only new note is herbaceous. The palate, however, is brighter and a little sweeter, with caramel-coated red apple and some added nuttiness. Try without water first, then add a few drops if desired.

Overall: The “fresh fruit” sibling to GlenDronach 12‘s meaty jam notes. I tried them side-by-side to confirm, and the differences when tasted this way are striking. A fun “diagonal” tasting, if you will, and worth trying for yourself with any GlenDronach/BenRiach where both are sherried. The ‘Riach makes the ‘Dronach more grassy and lively, while the ‘Dronach makes the ‘Riach sweeter and softer.

This bottle is everything that I like about sherried malt, and not a hint of the things I’ve disliked about past BenRiachs. Had I started with this, I would have put BenRiach right up there next to GlenDronach on my “favorites” list. If it weren’t discontinued for some unearthly reason, I’d suggest grabbing it, especially for under $60.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Sister distillery to GlenDronach – both were owned by The BenRiach Distillery Company, which saved BenRiach from mothballing by previous owners Pernod Ricard. In 2016, bourbon giant Brown-Forman purchased the two distilleries along with Glenglassaugh. The distillery has had a rocky past, being first mothballed 2 years after opening in 1898, to lay fallow for more than 60 years. It was then primarily used as a blending component until recently, when it has shown well on the single malt circuit. BenRiach produces a lighter distillate with a wide cut that shows the elegance of the barley. Some heavily-peated stocks (probably made to supplement Islay malt in blends) have been released as unusual peated Speyside single malts. The process water is from Brown Muir, which runs over sandstone and is quite hard water. The distillery has six stills, eight stainless steel washbacks, and has just reopened its own floor maltings.
The BenRiach PX Sherry Finished (15 year)
46% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $50 - $70 (estimated)
Acquired: (750ml bottle) Purchased at K&L Wines and Spirits, Redwood City, CA, $50

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  • Yes, this. I’d gotten three bottles of this wonderful stuff from K&L (north) at the same steal of a price $50. Down to my last bottle, alas.

  • I recently just finished a bottle of the new BenRiach 12 yr sherry wood. It’s matured in unspecified sherry casks and then finished in a combination of oloroso and px casks, with craft presentation. I found that it compares to Glendronach 12 in the same way described above (fresh fruit vs. meaty jam). For what it’s worth, it’s the only BenRiach expression I’ve ever had, so I do have the same high opinion of it as I do of Glendronach. So to anyone who found the above review enticing, go out and grab yourself a bottle of the new 12 because it fits to a tee. I should also add that at the store where I buy all of my whisky, Total Wine in Long Island, both the BR 12 and the GD 12 sell for $60.

  • Ah, BenRiach. Akin to Bruichladdich it can simply be hard to keep up with the near overwhelming number of expressions populating the shelves. I’m quite fond of the reasonably priced 10 (or 12) ex bourbon. The 12yr Sherry Wood is quite fine as well (but most certainly not new, as suggested herein). Then things get dicey. The 17yr peated Septemdecim was nice but didn’t match the $100+ price tag (I’ll take Ardbeg 10 – thank you very much). There’s a port/peated 17 Solstice, a pricey but lovely novelty. I’ve tried the 20yr but didn’t come close to my lofty expectations. Even my 23yr independent bottling from AD Rattray aged in a puncheon was quite good and thought-provoking but for $130 is ‘quite good’ good enough? Conclusion: you can’t go wrong with the handful of low age statement $50 offerings. Beyond that it’s buyer beware.

    • The current 12 yr sherry wood actually is a different whisky from the previous 12 yr sherry wood. The previous one was discontinued sometime in 2015 before the current one appeared in late 2018 with a somewhat convoluted maturation process and new packaging. Still very good however.

  • Try the BenRiach PX Tawny Port Finish 15 year if you can find it. It’s very drinkable.
    A bit too drinkable, actually…