Benriach 17 Septendecim (46%, OB 2018)

This was bought in 2018 but probably bottled earlier – I believe it was discontinued a while before that. Benriach of course recently revamped their core range: gone are the fanciful (sometimes misspelled) Latin descriptions (Heredotus Fumosus anyone?) and the capital R in the BenRiach – it’s all about clarity and simplicity now. I always have a lot of time for this distillery and really look forward to trying the new range, but let’s revisit this old favourite first. It was part of Benriach’s peated range.

Nose: Would it be too fanciful to describe the smoke as burning pine needles? It’s quite gentle and restrained in any case, and not maritime at all. Not sure what kind of casks were used – the colour is quite light so I suspect a high proportion of refill wood – but I’m getting a white wine note as well.

Palate: The same kind of woody smoke, with a lot of green apples and some grassy notes. Water brings out nuts and mild zest. It’s quite austere overall, with nothing particularly jumping out, but everything is in perfect balance.

Finish: Long, on fruity smoke (or smoky fruit?).

Comments: An earlier bottle from around 2014 was quite spectacular and could push 90 – I remember it compared very favourably to Lagavulin 16 in a blind tasting of peated malts. This one is not quite at the same level – everything seems more muted – but it remains a bottle I enjoy a lot.

Score: 86/100

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