By Richard Thomas
For a long time, BenRiach was one of the best kept secrets in Scotland, but a combination of new management, skillful marketing, and some very good single malts has been changing all that. In the United States, the distillery is known through what it releases for distribution by Anchor Distilling, the same company that is bringing so much Nikka Japanese whisky into the United States and stands behind Old Potrero Rye.
Back in January, Anchor put out a new batch of BenRiach whiskies, including the aged Authenticus. BenRiach has a penchant for Latin names, and as a fan of Roman history, I love that use of the long dead language. Between that and the generally high standard set at the distillery, I was really looking forward to trying their Septendecim 17 Year Old, another part of that January release.
BenRiach’s Septendecim 17 Year old was bottled at 46% abv, in keeping with the distillery’s usual practice. In the glass, the scotch has a pale straw appearance with a shiny, eye-catching character.
The nose has a certain apple and peach pie character, but leaning much more heavily on its cinnamon and nutmeg spicing than any fruity sweetness. There is a light, but distinguished touch of peat, and a trace of wood.
The flavor stirs all the features of the nose up, but that cinnamon and nutmeg fruit pie aspect remains at the core. The wood becomes more pronounced, mixing oak with cedar, and an oily stream of smoke runs right through the center. The finish unwinds off a spicy afterglow, leaving a pleasant warmth that stretches out for a middling length of time.
All in all, this is moderately complex single malt and a fine sipping whiskey. In fact, I think the stuff is perfect for those who like a little peat smoke, but aren’t enamored with the kind of bold, powerful smokiness that diehard peat fans go for.
Septendecim 17 Year Old goes for about £45, or $85 in the U.S.