First 'Tasting Notes' posted for the new year

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 6.33.13 PMI just posted reviews of the latest, brilliantly-conceived single malt Scotch from Glenmorangie's Private Edition series and for a bargain-priced Rkatciteli wine from the Republic of Macedoni.

Just click here to go to my DOWD'S TASTING NOTES blog where you will find those reviews and dozens of others on wines and spirits from around the world.

And, please, feel free to comment on reviews of any products you've personally sampled.

Scottish distiller makes big move for attention

Most distilleries roll out new offerings one at a time. The BenRiach Distillery, one of Scotland's internationally lesser known operations, is trying for the spotlight with a four-item rollout to U.S. markets.

The company, founded in 1898, this week announced the marketing move. The BenRiach, meaning “The Hill of the Red Deer” in Scots Gaelic, distillery is located in the foothills of the Grampian mountains in the northeast Speyside region of Scotland. It was acquired in 2004 by Billy Walker, a veteran of the Scotch whisky industry. It has an inventory of casks that date to 1966.

Here are Walker's descriptions of the four expressions, being imported by Anchor Distilling Company of San Francisco:
• The BenRiach Horizons 12 Year Old Triple Distilled (50% ABV, suggested retail price $79.99) -- Distilled three times before it is aged for 12 years. The resulting spirit features a nose of roasted almonds and Brazil nuts, hot freshly buttered scones topped with clotted cream, and sweet heather honey; on the palate, Horizons has huge nutty characteristics balanced by a slice of sweet, creamy oak and honey.

• The BenRiach Solstice 2nd Edition 17 Year Old (50% ABV, SRP $99.99) showcases the distillery’s ability to distill whisky from both styles of malted barley – peated and non-peated. Like the first edition, it has been distilled from heavily peated malted barley before it is matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in tawny port casks. On the nose, this Solstice features an aroma of stewed strawberries, blackberries and red currants, locked together by a muscular peaty blast, lending traces of fortified wine and grape qualities; on the palate, dry roasted nutty notes give way to heavy peat with subtle hints of dried raisins and candied fruit, culminating in a smooth, long finish.

• The BenRiach Septendecim 17 Year Old Peated Single Malt (46% ABV, SRP $79.99) is the latest addition to the distiller's peated range. It is non chill-filtered and matured in ex-bourbon casks to create a bold and intense expression. On the nose, Septendecim is a robust mix of fresh peaty aromas constructed around a central core of apples and toasted nuts dowsed in wild mountain honey; on the palate, the peaty heart is united with honey-infused raisins, roasted nuts and a luxurious leather impression.

• The BenRiach Authenticus 25 Year Old Peated Single Malt (46% ABV, SRP $249.99) completes the peated range in full-bodied, audacious style. On the nose, Authenticus exhibits elegant aromas of ripe pineapple, fresh mountain herbs and a profusion of sweet peat, producing a pungent blast of peat smoke; on the palate, the fusion of rich peat and smoldering embers are bound together by fresh herbs – oregano, aniseed and chicory – concluding with a rush of sweet, wild honey for a powerful, long-lasting impression.