Seems to be the month of new peated releases, in that earlier on, the new unidentified Peat's Beast arrived on the shelves (with a mixed reaction from us) and hot on the beast's cloven hooves, BenRiach have released a newly labeled Birnie Moss peated single malt and a 25yo Authenticus.
BenRiach is a distillery close to our heart (more exciting news on this later) and the Authenticus has often hit the spot. In its younger, 21yo guise, the whisky reminds one of just how well the distillery do peated whisky and they are unquestionably up there with some of the great Islay malts of the same age. The 25yo follows on from this, but with a extra reserve of refinement.
BenRiach - Authenticus - 25 years Old - 46%
Nose: Some surprising fresh lime notes get this off to a very fruity start. In comes the peat, gentle at first, but building with each sniff, delivering a full bodied sooty/burnt bonfire style peat the further you get in. From here, it is more delicate red berry notes, meringue and fresh cream and a dusting of salted liquorice. Very good indeed.
Palate: The fruit continues to the palate but is pipped to the post by more liquorice spice, that morning-after bonfire air, some heather honey and a big dose of menthol. Rounded and oaky.
Finish: The peat lingers, giving some drier pine smoke notes, but the tongue is still coated with the remnants of fruit and cream.
Overall: A nice way to reprise the Authenticus and a 'must' if you're a fan of the original 21yo.
Next up, the NAS Birnie Moss. On first glance, this looks frighteningly similar (ie very light) to the Peat's Beast, sans the lavish Scarfe-esque illustration.
BenRiach - Birnie Moss - 48%
Nose: First up are crushed multi-vitamins (that slightly off-yeasty note) straight into some very oily peat smoke. There is a little lemon zest and possibly some white pepper in there somewhere, but it is direct, driven and very peaty. Perhaps a little one dimensionsal.
Palate: Creamy, but with a thin mouthfeel. How did they do that? The peat is again upfront, but is this time tempered with some green apple and swathes of vanilla.
Finish: Some honeycomb notes begin to emerge, but the peat keeps a grasp on the palate- the whole experience is short and sharp.
Overall: Clearly a very young whisky, this has promise, but is a little impetuous and one- dimensional. If this were a discussion about racing drivers, the Authenticus, with its balance, grace and refinement is the Sterling Moss to the younger, more aggressive but not fully developed sibling, Birnie.