Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Red, Red Whine

BenRiach 1977 - 34yo Rioja Barrel #2588 - 44.1%

Apply Bonjela liberally

Wine finishes, eh? To some, they're a portent of doom; a sign of the shortage of quality sherry casks out there. To others, they're a revelation; taking whisky into a brave new era. Whatever your feelings, let's face it, they're like ulcers. A lot of them are red and, eventually, you're going to find one in your mouth.

You may be wondering, given my evident distaste for them, how I happened upon this particular one. Was I lured in by the intriguing packaging? Did my fierce love of BenRiach temporarily cloud my judgement? No. Put simply, and I must stress this is where the ulcer simile ends, my wife gave it to me.

Big, big nose on this. The wine influence is immediately noticeable with rich vine fruits, noble rot, grape must and a hint of sweet balsamic vinegar. Once you've fought your way through the vineyard, you are rewarded with wood varnish, cafe latte and mild spearmint. The third act brings fragrant peppercorns and a hint of clove. Hugely enjoyable.

Massive red wine hit with tannins coming from the wood, although there's a bitterness reminiscent of grape skins. Spicy and stern with a gentle sweetness nearing the finish. The quality of the malt is evident but it struggles to shine when faced with the brashness of the Rioja influence. 

Like Pinocchio having impure thoughts, it's long, woody and not particularly pleasant.

The nose beats the palate by a country mile. The woody, savoury, bitter-sweet flavours just don't hold up to the rich sweetness the nose projects. This is the perfect example of a quality malt that has been overaged and finished to its detriment. Shame. 

Grade: B
Good, but could have been so much better if bottled sooner.

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