Age: 15 years old
There are not so many rum finished whiskies on the market, but luckily BenRiach is always willing to experiment with different casks. This 15 year old Dark Rum Wood Finish was part of BenRiach’s first Wood Finish Series, released in 2006. Since then, the series has undergone periodic changes, as whiskies have come and gone. The Dark Rum Finish now falls in the ‘gone’ category, as it is no longer being produced. This perhaps reflects a lack of popularity when compared to its sherry, port or Moscatel finished siblings.
After an initial period of maturation in American bourbon barrels, this whisky was finished in casks that previously held dark rum from Jamaica. The result is rather typical, with notes of brown sugar, vanilla and toffee.
Nose: The nose is a greeting straight from the Caribbean, but almost overwhelmingly sweet. Massive, massive vanilla mixes with aromas of coconut and overripe pear. These give way to notes of butterscotch and crème caramel, which slowly fade to reveal toasted barley and buttered corn.
Palate: Sharp and spicy, with a dominant sweetness that’s transferred over from the nose. Notes of black pepper and gingerbread make way for nutmeg and hazelnut praline. Underneath it all is a slight hint of burnt toast.
Finish: Sweet and warming, with honeyed barley coming to the fore. A short burst of spices leaves a tangy, fiery aftertaste.
Verdict: The dark rum finish advertised on the bottle is no word of a lie. However, you can have too much of a good thing, and that’s unfortunately what’s happened here. There is nothing balanced about this whisky, as the rum influence completely overwhelms the BenRiach distillery character. The result is certainly not a bad dram, but also not one that compares favourably to some other rum finishes on the market. I won’t be revisiting BenRiach Dark Rum Finish any time soon, but given that my bottle is empty and this whisky is no longer sold, that’s not much of a statement.