BenRiach Birnie Moss Review

“Peated New Make Spirit”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highlands - Speyside
Brand: BenRiach Birnie Moss
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Probably 4-5 Years)
ABV: 48% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 545

Colour: White Wine (Chardonnay) - Artificially Coloured

Nose: Young and Fruity with a New Make Spirit feel to it. The Earthy Peat and Cold Smoke are there of course but in a mild way. Nevertheless, they are the main Aromas on the Nose. I also find light Tar and Ashes, Dusty Road, light Plastic, light Meat and Fish on the BBQ, Toasted Cereals, Yeast, Grass, Straw, light Floral notes, light Vanilla, Lemon, Peanut Butter, Tobacco, Green Apples, light Pepper and some Herbs. Speyside Peat isn't the same as Islay Peat of course but I do find some Medicinal notes that remind me of the latter. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. Most of the above mentioned Aromas are merely hints by the way. It's all a bit plain and not very exciting. 

Palate: Young and Hot. The ABV is too strong for the Young Spirit in my opinion. I can't help but thinking that the Peat and high Alcohol mainly serve to hide the young Spirit. I find Sweet Peat, Dirty Earth, Cold Smoke, Tar and Ashes, light Vanilla, Toasted Cereals, Salted Meat, slightly Sour Green Apples, Lemon, light Pepper, light Licorice, Charred Oak, light Leather and Black Espresso. I would guess that the Birnie Moss matured for 4 to 5 years in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks.          
Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Edgy and Hot. Quite Dry towards the end. The Alcohol stings a little. I find Dirty Earth, Cold Smoke, Tar, Ashes, Charred Oak, Toasted Cereals, light Vanilla, Pepper, Licorice, Grapefruit Juice, Green Apples, Salted Meat and distant hints of Leather and Black Espresso.  

I added a bit of Water and on the Nose the Peat and Smoke retreat a little and make place for more Vanilla and Floral notes. A bit of Honey pops up as well. Palate and Finish become too Thin for my taste. However, you can cautiously add a few drops to see where it leads you.  

Rating: 81.5 

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: The BenRiach distillery is located in the heart of the Speyside between Elgin and Rothes. It was founded around 1898 by John Duff, the owner of the nearby Longmorn distillery. Today it's one of the few distilleries with its own Malting Floors. Since 2004, it was independently owned by the BenRiach Distillery Company that also owns Glenglassaugh and GlenDronach. In April this year however, the Walker family and their partners sold the BenRiach Distillery Company to the US drinks giant Brown-Forman, the owner of Bourbon brands like Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve. A lot of BenRiach's production goes into the Chivas Regal Blends but more than enough is left for the many Single Malt Expressions. The Birnie Moss was released in 2009 and is named after a rugged moorland close to the distillery. It is peated at 35ppm and costs between 40 and 45 US Dollars (June 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay.  

Conclusion: I am disappointed with this BenRiach. It's too Young and quite Raw so in that respect the name is well-chosen at least. It comes close to being a peated New Make Spirit. The high ABV and the Peat dominate all the rest and perhaps that's the idea behind the Birnie Moss. It's not very expensive of course and the Price/Quality Ratio is not too bad if you like rough young Spirit. For me however this formula does not work very well!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       June 8, 2016

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