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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Benriach Heredotus Fumosus 12yo Whisky Review!

Benriach distillery is yet another scotch producer which seems to fly under the radar of many whisky enthusiasts. It is not easy to find, at least in Australia, but is well worth the effort. This is actually my first tasting of a Benriach whisky, by way of a sample sourced from SM Whisky.

The distillery is located in the famous Speyside region, but it is among the few distilleries in the region which produce a range of peated whiskies as part of their regular line-up, along with un-peated bottlings. They are also one of the few 'Speysiders' which malt their own barley, using traditional floor-maltings. Their parent company, Benriach Distillery Company, also owns Glendronach (my favourite un-peated 'sherry bomb' whisky) and Glenglassaugh distilleries, all located in Speyside.

Benriach produce a very wide range of whisky, ranging from 37+ year old un-peated single cask bottlings, to peated whisky finished in exotic casks, such as ex-rum or ex-madeira casks. Benriach's peated range can generally, but not always, be spotted by their use of latin names, such as 'Curiositas' and 'Authenticus', among others.

In this case the whisky carries the latin name 'Heredotus Fumosus', which translates to 'Smoky Sherry' in English. The sherry in this case refers to a cask finishing / secondary maturation in Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry butts. The whisky carries an age statement of 12 years, although the term of both the initial maturation and cask finishing is not made clear. It is also non-chill filtered, bottled at 46% and without adding colouring. Great stuff!
Benriach 'Heredotus Fumosus' 12yo, 46%, Speyside, Scotland.
Finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, non-chill filtered, no adding colouring. Limited release of approx. 3500 bottles. 

(tasted neat)
Colour: Dark gold, slightly bronze.

Nose: Quite malty and biscuity for a heavily-peated whisky. A nice coastal peat with a hint of salinity, only a little smoke. Juicy red fruits, strawberry & plum, maybe a hint of cherries. 

Texture: Oily & warm, very nice. 

Taste: Much smokier than on the nose, but not overbearing, delicious! Quite dry with a tiny hint of ash. The red fruits are still there from the nose, but are beaten down slightly by the peat smoke. 

Finish: Dry & mouth-watering, juicy red fruits now beating the smoke down. Nice long finish. 

Score: 3.5 out of 5. 

Notes: A very good whisky, although there's not a huge level of complexity present. The PX finish has certainly added some depth, the spirit itself is good quality, and that smoke is delicious! I don't know if I would pick this as a Speyside whisky in a blind-tasting, I suspect I would look towards the Islands first, but that isn't a bad thing. 

I'll admit I was drawn to this sample in order to compare it to Laphroaig PX, my current favourite from Laphroaig. They are both heavily-peated, similar in alcoholic strength, and are both finished in PX sherry casks. The PX however is an NAS bottling, while the Benriach is stated as 12 years old, and obviously the spirits themselves are quite different in style to begin with. 

I did prefer the Laphroaig by a considerable margin, but it wasn't a total annihilation (anyone remember that old PC game?). I certainly wouldn't turn the Benriach 'Heredotus Fumosus' away on a cold night. Unfortunately it was a limited release from the distillery, but assuming you can find a bottle without the inevitable 'rarity-tax' added on, it's certainly worth getting a hold of. 

I look forward to trying more of Benriach's range too, it's going well so far!