The Benriach 18yo “Latada” (46%, OB, Limited Production, Peated, Madeira Finish. 4001 bottles, 2015)

The Benriach Limited Production 18yo’s. It took me a few years but now we can finally put this trio to rest. In the year 2015 three 18yo’s were released, but not on the same moment. Albariza (PX finish) was the first one, reviewed in 2018, Dunder (Rum finish) the second, reviewed in 2015 and finally this review of Latada (Madeira finish) in 2021. Quite a lot has happened in the world in this space of time. In 2017 also two second edition’s were released, both 22yo, so the original casks for these two, were filled earlier than those for the 18 yo’s. However, this tells us nothing about length of the finish. Albariza and Dunder were thus repeated, but there is no 22yo Latada. Were the Madeira casks used for finishing unavailable or did they forget to produce it? Were the results unsatisfactory and the decision was made to hold it back, or maybe the original 18yo Latada didn’t sell all that well or was somehow unpopular and they just didn’t bother to repeat it. Who knows? So, let’s find out for ourselves, shall we?

Color: Full gold.

Nose: Fruity and very pleasant light peat. Latex paint, vanilla powder and warm apple sauce. Very pleasant nose. I’ll let you in on a little secret with this Malt. You can force this Malt to smell like a 1976 Benriach or Tomatin. Fruit, fruit, fruit, tropical fruit, well you catch my fruity drift now, yes? Excellent old-skool Benriach fatty, sweet and succulent yellow fruit. If you pour this Malt in your favourite glass and cover it up right away, allowing for the aroma’s to concentrate under the lid. Leave it there for a few minutes (or even better, hold it in your hands to speed up the process). When you feel confident, take the lid off and smell it… Remember, you heard about this here first! This Benriach has this amazing trick upon its sleeve. Thick sunny fruit with a nice black peaty edge. Good balance. Warm smoked apple sauce and moisturising hand cream (Nivea). Crushed beetle and smouldering leaves. Fresh oak with nice medium wood spices and some bonfire notes. Amongst all these Benriach’s that were released under Billy Walkers reign, with labels in colours you didn’t even know existed, these three finishes (Albariza, Dunder and Latada) really stand out for me, as if these received some kind of extra care. Benriach is already a great distillate and Malt, and these three are certainly no slouches. Otherwise this Latada seems to be somewhat simpler and less peaty than both Albariza or Dunder.

Taste: Sweet and sour fruity acidity. Apple sauce, sugared yellow fruits, slightly nutty (like a mix of freshly burnt and unsalted nuts you buy at the market on Saturday) and cigarette ashes. Thick (sweetness + peat) and thin (acidity) at the same time. Some nice wood, more than the nose had, but not very much, not a lot of bitterness as well, which is great. This leaves more room for the fruit and the peat. I expected even some more peat here though, and maybe even some prickly smoke, but foremost this Malt shows me ashes first, apart from the fruit that is. Soft and (light) peat do come next. Only next, comes some sweet licorice and again some wood. All in all a very tasty Whisky (hints of diluted Fanta), but less complex than expected. Excellent finish though. Nice warming and peaty aftertaste. Sure, of the three, Latada makes you work the hardest to show you what it’s got, but it is still a very nice one. The body of this Malt is narrower than both the Albariza and Dunder and as said also somewhat less complex.

Keep a lid on this one! Focus them aroma’s!

Points: 87

I understand that the scoring of Albariza (89 Points), Dunder (88 Points) and Latada (87 Points) seem a bit “coincidental”, but for me these scores reflect perfectly the quality of all three Malts and the differences between them. All three are very good, and some finishes just work a little bit better than the next. Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion, and it is highly likely, your preferences will differ. The perception one has, concerning the PX, Rum and Madeira finishes is also a matter of taste and can differ from one person tot the next. So for me the PX finish works best, but the other two are very nice as well. All three finishes work very well with the peat, and I can recommend all three. Considering these 18yo’s, I could be tempted to buy the Albariza and the Dunder back, but luckily these two have 22yo’s versions, so I’m getting those in stead. If a 22yo Latada would have existed I would have bought that one as well, because the 18yo version is still a good Whisky, receiving a well deserved 87 points. It would be interesting though to see how the 22yo would have been. However, I’m not sure if I would be getting the 18yo Latada again. For me it is still the least one of the three if you compare them to each other, and it is also the one that needed the most work to get everything out of it. Albariza and Dunder are easier in that respect. Get them all, they are good and differ quite a lot from each other. I would only recommend opening them in reverse order, so Latada first, than Dunder and finally Albariza. That will work best.

Glenfiddich 19yo “Age of Discovery” (40%, OB, Madeira Cask Finish)

After an (alas imaginary) short break on the beaches of Barbados, back to Scotland again. From the oldest Rum brand in the world we now focus our gaze at the Whisky that started it all for Single Malts, Glenfiddich. Up ’till now lots of Glenfiddich have found their way onto these pages. The Whisky at hand is the first of three “Age of Discovery” bottlings. All three are accompanied by little stories about traveling and discovering new territories by usage of tall sailing ships. This particular Madeira cask finished Glenfiddich is about discovering the isle of Madeira (and Madeira Wine). The other ones are about sailing up the rivers of America for Bourbon casks (not a Bourbon finish, but wholly matured in Bourbon casks) and finally a Red Wine finish with the story of Darwin visiting the wine making regions of Argentina. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and have a look at this Madeira finished one first.

Glenfiddich 19yo "Age of Discovery" (40%, OB, Madeira Cask Finish)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Funky and acidic. Where is this going? Some wood, rotting wood. Barley and grainy in fact. Waxy.  I’m getting a lot of wax lately, so maybe that’s just me. Luckily with time the aroma’s start to gel a bit. Started out very unbalanced, but the balance returns. Still the whole doesn’t seem to be very complex and obviously is very light. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to reduce it to 40% ABV. Mint & toffee come next. Unbelievable how malty this is after 19 years.

Taste: Sugar water with mocha, toffee and more sugar-water. So yes, quite sweet and appealing. Did the Madeira do that? Lots of vanillin from the American oak. Creamy. Pudding. Custard. Caramel, Toffee. After that it falls flat on its face. Short finish and hardly any aftertaste save for some creamy sweetness. Sure it’s nice and very, very easily drinkable, but hey, where is the development, where is the complexity? It’s a shame this got reduced so much because it tastes like nothing special now. It’s nice, but it is in no way better than a good Malt that costs much less than this one does.

I don’t know if this was meant for travel Retail? A lot of those big box Whiskies that are meant for travel Retail are 40% ABV. Why? Is the industry afraid the traveller at hand will open and drink the bottle on the spot? On the ferry or on the plane? Well, if that’s so, a traveller will get pretty plastered drinking a bottle at 40% ABV as well. So no need to put so much water into the Whisky bottle I would say. I guess you pay for the packaging this time. It’s nice, but could have been so much more. Expect to finish this bottle very quickly, because it drinks like lemonade, but alas also has the complexity and length of a lemonade.

Points: 81