Tasting: Benriach 17 Septendecim vs. 21 Authenticus

benriach_17_21Dram data:

Distillery: BenRiach
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: n/a
Bottled: 17: 28/03/2013 21: 27.06.2011
Age: 17/21 years
Limitation: unknown
Price at the time of purchasing: – (Miniatures)
Cask: –
Alcohol: 46% each
Unchillfiltered & natural color
Whiskybase link 17
Whiskybase link 21

A head to head tasting with my brother of the two peated Speysiders from the same distillery. 4 years of age difference and bottled 2 years apart – sounds fun!

Tasting notes Benriach 17 Septendecim:

Colour: (dark-ish) straw
Nose: Slight bonfire smoke, vanilla, forest honey, ginger sweeties, freshly mown grass,
Taste: peated honey sweetness, vanilla, toffee, pepper on the tongue
Finish: warm, spicy, pleasant bitterness, some peat and wood in the background after the sweeter notes have dried down, medium long

Tasting notes Benriach 21 Authenticus:
Colour: a smidgen darker than the 17
Nose: Peat fire, orange zest, vanilla, fresh ginger, fruitier blossom honey, less intense grassy notes
Taste: Very rounded and mellow, vanilla sweet pudding dessert, orange juice, liquorice, honey candy, slight peatiness in the background, very well integrated
Finish: Intense and mouth-filling at first, the same sweet, warm, spicy impression as in the 17 year old version, but with a bit more oomph and intensity. Lasts quite a bit longer and shows less cask influence as well as less peat smoke

Verdict:

While both drams exhibit similar characteristics of intense vanilla, honey sweetness and seem to be made up of a rather similar composition of (mostly refill according to the taste) bourbon casks, they are also differences when compared side by side. The 17 year old is a bit younger, more grassy, edgier while the 21 year old has lost more of its smokiness (which always tends to disappear more and more with age) and is more integrated in terms of smell and taste, (even) sweeter and a wee bit more complex in every aspect. Both are nice, sweet, slightly peated drams in their own right and the 17 year old at about 50€ offers serious value for the money. The 21 year old has sadly been discontinued and the new 25 year old offering is nearly triple the price of the 17 or double the price of the 21 (price source: master of malt, April 2014), so if you can still find a bottle of the 21 at a good price – go for it. If not, the 17 isn’t a slouch either. Oh, and if you happen to find both: Try blending them together to get the best of both worlds – the more intense opening of the 17 and the better finish of the 21 😉


Score Benriach 17 Septendecim:
84/100 (Score from my brother Johannes: 85)
Score Benriach 21 Authenticus: 87/100 (Score from my brother Johannes: 88)

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