BenRiach 1990 (Sansibar) Review

“Wooden Heart”

Whisky Review # 825

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: BenRiach 1990 (Samurai Label)
Bottled By: Sansibar/Spirit Shop's Selection in 2015 - 239 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky
Age: 25 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.8%
Maturation: Sherry cask
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 640 (August 2019) - Lowest Price: US$ 245 (August 2019)
Buying Advice: 😔 The Malt is okay but Wood-driven. P/Q ratio: 👎


Golden Straw (Natural Colour)


It's hard to believe that this BenRiach matured for 25 Years. It's Fruity but does not show a whole lot of complexity. Quite clean actually. It can't have been a very active cask as well as the Sherry influence is rather limited. It's not bad of course but I would have expected so much more considering age and price level. The ABV is quite stiff but the Alcohol is reasonably well-integrated.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Mandarin, Banana Ice Cream, Apricot, Apple, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Pepper and a touch of Aniseed.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Pineapple, Pear, White Wine & Red Wine (Never got that before!), Nuts and Nutshells, Trees and Leaves, Raisins, Musty Refill Oak, Cloves and a hint of Milk Chocolate.


Bitter-Sweet, Creamy and Spicy. The Age makes itself known at this point. It's not as Fruity as the Nose would suggest.

Main Flavours:

Malted Barley, Straw, Vanilla, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Slivovitz, Mandarin, Nuts & Nutshells, Banana, Musty Refill Oak, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Honey, Apple, Pear, Dark Red Fruit (Cherries?), Lemon, Wet Stones, Cocoa Powder, Leather, Tobacco and a hint of Bacon.


Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Some Sour notes as well.The Bitterness increases towards the Medium-Dry end. Quite a bit of Wood and Wood spice. It really shows its age by now. There's also a very creamy mouth feel to it. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Yeast, Straw, Farmyard, Apple, Lemon, Grapefruit, Herbal Tea, Refill Oak, Nuts and Nutshells, Orange Liqueur, Red Grapes, Cocoa Powder, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Aniseed and Licorice. After five minutes or so the Dry Menthol like Bitterness kinda returns to your throat. It does not really invite you to taker another sip.

Drinking Advice:

Despite the respectable ABV, this BenRiach does not improve with added Water. You're left with Spicy Oak. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 84

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but disappointing given Age and Price.


The BenRiach distillery was founded in 1897 by John Duff & Co and is located in Longmorn, Elgin (Morayshire). It changed hands a couple of times in its history but in April 2016 it was bought by Brown Forman. BenRiach produced more or less 1,8 million litres in 2018. The core range includes a/o the NAS Heart of Speyside, the 10, 12, 21, 25 and 35 years. The peated varieties include a/o the Birnie Moss, the Curiositas 10 and the peated Quarter Cask. I have not yet been able to visit this Distillery as yet. We passed by in 2014 but it was closed for maintenance at the time. BenRiach Spirit is also used in Blends like Chivas Regal, 100 Pipers and Queen Anne.

I was really looking forward to taste this 25 Years old BenRiach but it did not live up to expectations. I mainly blame the cask for this. It's hard to detect any decent Sherry influence and it mostly gave Wood and Wood Spice to the Spirit. That Spirit is quite Fruity actually as you will perceive on the Nose. But on the Palate and in the Finish that Fruit is being overpowered by Wood and Spices. High prices are asked on the Internet as not many bottles are left. The Whisky itself though does not justify these high prices. Better save your money for an other occasion. It's a pity though as it promised so much on the outset!


Jan van den Ende                                                                    August 9, 2019

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