This year, the sought-after festival bottlings from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society sported colorful animal illustrations. One of my faves: the chilled orang-utan that peacefully dozes on the label of this bourbon cask-matured Benrinnes 22 Years Old. Luckily, the whisky – which goes by the fitting nickname of “Orange oil and wine corks” – did not sell out instantly. On release day, it took about half an hour for all 142 bottles to find new homes. This gave me enough time to grab one for myself. As someone, who tends to approach whisky from an emotional angle, I knew I would make quick and easy friends with that happy-go-lucky, cool-as-it-gets ape. Still, I was pleasantly surprised when I first drank the number 36.172 from The SMWS. Not only is the jungle-tastic packaging really awesome – the whisky itself is an absolute masterpiece as well! Like the orang-utan on the front side of the bottle, the spirit inside is powerful yet gentle, strong-in-character yet settled and intense yet unobstrusive. It is an incredible testament of a just how wonderful a maturation in a former bourbon cask can be!
Eye: Dark-golden in color and oily in texture.
Nose: Able-bodied and luscious with a wonderful silkiness. The whisky brims with aroma. Yet, it caresses the nostrils smoothly and softly (which is a rare quality for a cask strength dram with over 60 per cent ABV). The first scents that present themselves to me are chewy caramel, juicy oranges, clotted cream and fluffy honey cake. There is also some fresh lime zest, a sprinkler of perfume and an ounce of saw dust. In the back, I make out the fragrance of fruit salad (straight out of the can) with thick vanilla sauce on top. This old Benrinnes smells absolutely mouthwatering!
Palate: A grand experience! As soon as the first drops of 36.172 wet my tongue, I find myself on a one-way trip to whisky heaven. The full, oily texture is very pleasing to the mouth. And the over-proof strength is perfectly integrated – time and wood have done an amazing job at shaping this malt to perfection. It offers yellow fruits (banana, mango) and sweet treats (vanilla pudding, cookie dough) as well as grapes, limes, zests and salted caramel. In accordance with the moniker, I also make out some white wine and some orange sticks here and there.
Finish: During the very satisfying finish, the whisky becomes fruitier. It instills on me long-lasting impressions of tropical fruits and garden fruits. They are complemented by the delish notes of cinnamon rolls, banana chips and icing sugar as well as white- and yellow-colored wine gums. No doubt about it: This one’s truly amazing and I am super happy that I scored a bottle!
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Region: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 22 years
Alc. volume: 60.7 per cent
Cask type: Second fill bourbon barrel
# of bottles: 142
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~110.00 Euro
More info: https://www.smws.com/ (Bottler)