BenRiach 17 Years Old Solstice 2nd Edition ~ 50% (BenRiach & GlenDronach Distilleries)

50% ABV, £58 for 70cl

Score: 91/100

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What they say:

Unusually for a Speyside distillery, we distil whisky from both styles of malted barley, non peated and peated, enabling us to capture the defining taste and aroma of peat reek in a few of our special bottlings.

Just like the original Solstice release, this BenRiach has been distilled from heavily peated malted barley, then matured in ex-bourbon casks before finally being finished in Tawny Port casks. This new malt is a superb marriage of peat and fruit, a worthy successor to our 15-year old edition.

The bottling strength for the Solstice 17 year old ‘Second Edition’ is 50%.

Nose: Fabulous aroma of stewed summer berries including strawberries, blackcurrants and red currants. The berry component is richly locked together by a muscular peaty blast. Latter traces of fortified wine and grape like qualities become apparent.

Colour: Impressive colour spectrum, showing distinct rose characteristics, with a bright copper crest.

Taste: Initial, dry roasted nutty notes flow over the palate. This advances to become a heavy peaty affair. Subtle notes of dried raisins, and candied fruit. Clean and very enticing with the dominant peat flavours lingering on the palate. Smooth and very long.

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What I say:

The pinnacle of our WOLS tasting 14/4 ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover’ was the BenRiach Solstice 2nd Edition (released at 17 years old as opposed to the original edition at 15). This is a peaty expression from BenRiach that has been finished in Tawny Port casks so expect complexity…

Colour:

Copper rose gold

Nose:

Sweet wholewheat toasted bread with red berry (raspberry?) jam, cranberry sauce, cocoa-dusted and heather-tinged peat smoke, like smoked chocolate coffee beans (if such a thing exists? – I really hope it does)

Taste:

Walnuts and hints of pecan, prickly cayenne pepper on oaty chocolate biscuits, some fruit in here but almost like mince-pie filling, cinnamon, sultanas, cubed apple, molasses, pinch of nutmeg, hazelnut, raisin, dark chocolate, treacle toffee, slightly earthen peat.

Finish:

Long nutty walnut/oak wood with a little wood polish and peaty smoke.

Overall:

Doesn’t disappoint, this is hugely complex and interesting. The nose reveals fruity elements of the port finish that are indistinguishable in the palate from other elements. This tastes like it has been carefully hand-selected and mixed to a recipe and the result is like the perfect Christmas mince pie. Perhaps taking flavours you wouldn’t expect to work together and then blowing you away with how splendidly they combine. The more I drink the more it reveals. Thank You BenRiach!