Following on from previous months Rum finish, we are looking at the BenRiach Tawny Port 15 year old whisky from Benriach Distillery. Port comes from the Northern part of Portugal where it has been made for centuries. It is made by adding grape spirit to the wine, which “fortifies” the wine making it sweeter and able to endure Portugals hot climates for storage. The Australian wine industry was born making port wines as it was able to endure the equatorial heat as it was transported back to England in sailing ships. Ironically as the Australian wine industry is in decline, the most rapidly declining segment is fortified wines.
This months whisky is the BenRiach Tawny Port 15 year old finished in Tawny Port ‘hogsheads’. A Hogshead refers to the specific size of oak barrel (in the case of port, it is 259 litres). In the Case of this BenRiach, the hogsheads are from the Douro region of Portugal.The oak used in these hogsheads is European oak, which is toasted in an oven rather than fired and burnt. This gives the spirit a more syrupy characteristic. The flavours of the toasted oak leaches out into the spirit carrying with it traces of the embedded flavours of the previously aged Port.
The BenRiach Tawny Port finish aged 15 years, is a wonderfully intense whisky with a syrup mouthfeel. It has full blown prune characters, some vanilla, caramel and spice. The spice is fascinating. There is cinnamon and tamarind. The port wood is a european oak, which removes the lifted finish of the american oaks, leaving the finish a bit smoother. It is intense and beautiful. Best of all it is a great contrast again to the Rum finish.
Nose: Crème brulée, honey, cinnamon and coconut in harmony with rich port notes and oak wood
Taste: Butterscotch, herbs, cinnamon, peaches and sultanas, infused with rich port and oak wood notes