Barely a month ago we looked at the newest entrant into Benriach’s single malt lineup, a 16 year old expression. Now we dive back in with an even more prized offering, Benriach The Forty, which is exactly what you think it is.
Well, almost. While most Benriach releases are unpeated (sans the Smoke Season-designated releases), The Forty is made with peated malt. Aged in a combination of bourbon and Port wine casks, the limited release is one of the oldest peated whiskies ever to be produced in Speyside.
After 40 years in cask, it is not surprising that much of that peat has dissipated, which is common with very old Islay whiskies. The nose barely hints at it, filtering an aroma of far-off chimney fires through more traditional cereal notes, some charred oak, fresh hay, and — finally — a bit of fruit. Hints of apricot and Meyer lemon are lively, becoming almost racy with time in glass.
On the palate, the script is flipped. The fruit is up front, those bold apricot notes dominating alongside rich notes of honey, malty syrup, and Meyer lemon again — here more peel than juice or oil. Nutty as it develops on the tongue, the apricot notes take on an almond quality — not uncommon for the fruit — taking us to a finish that evokes coconut, backed with sesame and white pepper. Never aggressive in the slightest, yet still full of life, the lingering honey and sesame oil notes give the cleansing fade-out a sweet-meets-savory quality that is both refreshing and restrained. Any hint of peat smoke is long gone by the time you get to this point. Lovely stuff.