Review: Johnnie Walker High Rye

One of the newest blends from Johnnie Walker is a platform for rye grain to shine. High Rye is made from a mash bill of 60% rye blended with whiskies from Cardhu, Cameronbridge, Teaninich, Caol Ila, Clynelish, and Glenkinchie. The whisky was aged in first fill and refill American oak casks.

Essentially, in this day and age, it’s Johnnie Walker’s homage to American and Canadian rye whiskey. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s certainly a great place to start for the American whiskey consumer looking to branch out to other whiskies.

Bottled at 45% abv, Johnnie Walker High Rye features vanilla and oak spice on the nose. A sweet, toasted rye grain note comes into play slowly. Taste-wise, those vanilla and toffee notes hit the palate first, followed by buttered rye toast and oak spice. Some mild fruity notes peek through every now and then. The finish is medium short and carries over that sweet and spicy profile. Interestingly, the sweetness (in the form of maple syrup) fades first, leaving behind a nice peppery note.

Johnnie Walker High Rye is an easy sipping, sweet & spicy whisky. It makes for a great Manhattan, but holds its own neat in a glass. At an SRP of $34.99, this one’s a no-brainer.

Thanks to Johnnie Walker for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Benriach “The Thirty”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

Sitting atop Benriach’s core range is “The Thirty.” This crown jewel of a whisky is crafted from the distillery’s old peated whisky stock by their master blender Rachel Barrie. Bottled at 46% abv, “The Thirty” features a four-cask maturation: bourbon barrels, sherry casks, virgin oak casks, and port casks from Douro Valley. After three decades, the peaty character of the whisky mellows down into something elegant.

The nose features a lovely subdued smoke, so it’s nowhere near as prominent as say Benriach “The Smoky Ten.” Cocoa, fig, plum, and burnt orange peel round out this rich smelling whisky. Taste-wise, dark fruit and raisin form the foundation here, with oak spice and dark chocolate hitting the mid-palate. After three decades of maturation, a little leather pops up on the back of the palate. The finish is long, continuing with the dark fruit and elegant smoke profile.

Benriach “The Thirty” is quite the special pour. As old as the whisky is, there’s still a vibrancy that flows throughout. The depth of flavor is quite impressive, as is the decision to use port casks in the construction of this release. Highly recommended. $739.99

Thanks to Benriach for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Benriach “The Twenty One” & “The Twenty Five”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

Now we’re getting into some serious whisky. Benriach’s ultra premium side of their core range includes a 21-, 25-, and 30-year old expression. Today, we’re focusing on the first two. Both expressions are bottled at 46% abv, which is a great proof to showcase the flavors and aromas better and yet still be very easily drinkable without adding water. Let’s jump in…

The Twenty One

This lovely beast sees a four-cask maturation: bourbon, sherry, virgin oak, and Bourdeaux red wine casks. Master Blender Rachel Barrie uses both Benriach’s unpeated and peated whisky to compose this orchestra of flavor. Those red wine casks really mingle well with Benriach’s style. The nose features hints of plum, oak spice, ripe orchard fruit, and smoked honey. The palate is reminiscent of fruit being grilled over a wood fire. Honey adds a little sweetness and richness, and a nice tobacco note leads into a long, hearty finish.

The combination of cask types, especially the addition of Bourdeaux red wine casks, really amp up the distillery’s signature fruity profile. This is a must-buy whisky at $199.99. Benriach has managed to craft an elegant, fruit-forward peated whisky that remains superbly balance and immensely delicious.

Photo courtesy of Benriach

The Twenty Five

Benriach “The Twenty Five” (and kudos for the direct, easy-to-remember names here) also utilizes a four cask maturation with sherry casks, bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, and Madeira Island wine casks. The flavor profile here deepens a bit when compared to the 21-year-old expression. The nose features hints of nutty toffee, cocoa, baked orchard fruit, and some oak spice. Taste-wise, a wave of smoky caramel combines with baked apricot, baking spice, and toasted oak to produce a whisky I can best describe as f*cking delicious. A slight earthiness (tobacco leaf) shows up in the mid-palate to add even more to the cacophony of flavors. The finish is soft, but lingers for a while.

I’d call this a richer, darker, and nuttier version of Benriach. It drinks lower than its 46% abv proof, and each sip tempts you to keep the bottle nearby. It’s a really, really great whisky. Price-wise, at $349.99 it’s quite a jump compared to the 21-year-old’s bargain price. That said, tell me where else you’ll find a 25-year-old single malt for $350?