Benriach Solstice 17 year

Benriach: Solstice 17 year 2nd Edition (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 17 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Deep burnished gold, with light rose hints in the light.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Peat and beef broth. Mixed spice. Light potpourri – rose petals. Water adds dried raspberries.

Body: Very smooth. Toffee, cherries and port. Growing peat at the tail end. Liquid chocolate. Water smoothes even more. Caramel. Beef broth, liquorice and figs come out.

Finish: Light medicinal note. Red cherries. Drying. Touch of smoke, salt and oak. Rose wine. Light spice. Water adds stewed apples and strawberry then figs.

Conclusion: Ok, after the virgin oak we have this, looks like today is “smoother than it has any right to be” day. At 50% abv this still comes in velvet smooth, if you go so far as to add water it becomes caramel soaked velvet.

Wait that sounds horrid. I mean that in a good way!

It is far more complex than the initial impressions give as well. The aroma is big and peaty, with beef broth and the like, with rose hints at the back the only variance. That is a good whisky, but a bit one note. The body on the other hand, while peated, is really pushing dark fruit to the foreground. I am aware that “Velvet fig” is already taken as a whisky name, however it seems appropriate – figs mix with cherries and smooth chocolate. The peat is a backing that slowly grown to the foreground, but never eclipses the dark fruit.

The, erm, well harshness, as it can barely be called, is in the finish. Lightly medicinal and salt, with what came before only showing as hints now. All water does to this whisky is change the emphasis and level of smoothness.

This really makes the peat work for the whisky rather than the other way around, and shows how to do a heavy and peated whisky without being defined by the Islay style.

This is a lovely and decadent whisky – since “Velvet fig” is taken, maybe peated velvet fig is allowed? As that is what this whisky is.

Very impressive in all things.

Background: Solstice is the heavily peated take on Benriach, here finished in port pipes. I’ve been meaning to do a Benriach review for a while, and since this turned up at Brewdog Bristol I decided to give it a go. In fact this was had immediately after the very impressive Auchentoshan Virgin Oak.