Review: Benriach The Sixteen

With malts aged 10, 12, 21, 25, and 30 years old — all in its permanent line — Speyside’s Benriach decided it needed to fill in the middle a bit, and the year it’s adding a 16 year old expression to the lineup — officially denoted as The Sixteen.

Benriach 16 Years Old was retired from the portfolio in 2016. The new release is a reformulation that sees the whisky matured in a combination of bourbon barrels, sherry casks, and virgin oak casks.

“The return of Benriach The Sixteen is a very special moment for the distillery as it is one of our most treasured expressions,” said Rachel Barrie, Master Blender for Benriach. “Our signature Speyside style blossoms at 10 years old, finding depth and richer layers of orchard fruit character as it turns 16. Our core flavor components of fruit, malt, and oak become more concentrated, enriched with age at 16 years old, bringing layers of stone fruit, smooth creamy malt, wild honey, and nutty oak spice.”

The whisky shows Benriach on its more savory side, featuring an oaky nose that layers in notes of leather and antique books. Distinctly malty, the cereal elements create a grainy, slightly mushroomy base upon which gentle aromas of baked apples and a pinch of baking spice appear. That leathery nose serves as an appropriate base upon which to build the palate, and here the fruit and spice elements become more forceful. Apples, some lemon, and a saline quality all emerge quickly, leading to a finish that is warm and toasty — day-old bread smeared with marmalade. Oddly, much of this feels like it wouldn’t be out of place in an island-born malt, the fade-out evoking a strangely maritime character that had me dreaming of seaweed, for better or worse.

86 proof.

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