Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britains oldest wine and spirit merchant. The business was established in 1698 and has been trading ever since from the same shop in St. James Street in London. Entering this specialist shop with its antique wooden interior felt almost like a time capsule. Berry Bros. created the famous Cutty Cask and Blue Hanger blend and offered private bottlings of whisky. Since 2002 these whiskies (and a range of other spirits like armagnac and rhum) are sold under the Berry's Own label.
Speyside distillery Benriach, founded in 1897, could easily be called a miniature of everything Scotch whisky has to offer: from the typical sweet Speyside style to heavily peated whiskies, to triple distilled spirit, to wood experiments with a wide variety of casks. Name it and Billy Walker probably tried it at Benriach. The distillery itself changed hands multiple times and was mothballed twice during the past 200 years but managed to reposition itself amongst the top brands of the industry.
Identity Card Berry Bros & Rudd 1996 Benriach
- Independent bottling from Benriach Distillery, Elgin (Speyside)
- Bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd, London
- 17-year-old single malt
- Alcohol: 49.7 % ABV
- Distilled in 1996 - bottled in 2013
- Cask #45754
Note: This is a bottle I bought at Berry Bros on my 30th birthday trip (or shopping spree in feminine terms) to London last year. So, yes this review may be a little biased due to the memories that come with the bottle.
A fruit basket laden with memories
Tasting notesColour: The whisky has all the benchmarks of good quality spirits: natural colour, no chill-filtration and (very likely) bottled at cask strength. The colour approaches wet straw or bleeched gold. Slow legs trickle down from the side of the glass.
Nose: The first nosing only reveals biscuits, licorice and aniseed. It really pays off to let it breath for at least 15 minutes. An overwhelming but multi-faceted range of fruity aromas emerge from the glass. Apricots, green apples, oranges and bananas. Freshly picked nuts, kaffir lime, apple mint, hard pears and rose petals offer a fresh and herbal counterweight for the fruitiness.
A splash of water brings up some cinnamon and the slightest trace of smoke.
Taste: A sweet spicy and tickling mouthfeel. Licorice and marshmallows teaming up with vanilla and honey. Again that distinct and pleasant fruitiness from melons and apricots. Lemon and pepper are lifting this whisky to a higher level.
The water accentuates vanilla and honeyed sweetness coming from ripe melons. Bay leaf tops it off.
Finish: The aftertaste is fresh, herbal and a little spicy with honey, mint, smoked pepper and a very light astringency from bitter oak and grapefruit rind.
ConclusionI entered Berry's with one goal in mind: buying a bottle of Berry's Own whisky as a souvenir to a wunderful trip. I didn't pin myself to a certain flavour profile or region and I managed to bring down the choice to only two bottles: a 1989 peated Bunnahabhain and this 1996 Benriach. Thanks to the knowledgeable and easy going staff member (and his offer to sample both whiskies) I picked this one. And never regretted my choice. A dram that will be treasured and shared on special occasions.
The bottle costed approximately £75 if my memory is right. An honest price for an unforgettable trip and shop experience.
Berry Brothers landed on my 'absolutely-not-to-miss-shops' (with Taylor of Old Bond Street and SMWS Greville Str.) for any London trip I'll undertake in the future. Note to self: Don't forget your camera and take some pictures of the stunning interior...
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