Today’s whisky is a but of a curiosity. Neither because of the bottler nor the distillery. Berry Bros & Rudd is well-established and respected, and so is BenRiach. It’s rather the cask that was used to finish this release that stood out to me – a Plavac Mali Dalmatian Wine Cask.
Not being much of a knowledgeable wine drinker, this type of cask was new to me. A quick search provided some clarity, explaining that Plavac Mali is the primary red wine grape grown along the Dalmation coast of Croatia. Plavo apparently means blue, while mali means small. That should give you some idea of what the grapes look like.
In a way its surprising that we don’t see Berry Bros & Rudd release more wine-finished whiskies. After all, they’re a wine merchant first and foremost.
Nose: I don’t often comment on colour, but this has a remarkable purplish/pinkish hue to it. Anyway, let’s move on. Quite dense, but cassis and/or blackberries are very present, as well as strawberries and raspberries. Also quite a candy-esque influence. We’d call them wine balls and buy them at Dutch fairs. Hints of damp oak too. This is nice, but I’m careful to judge before taking a sip. Taste: Okay, not too winey, but it is quite hot. This is not one of those dangerously drinkable high abv whiskies. Spicy and peppery. A hint of struck matches, quite dry overall, and some pickled oranges, chocolate and dried apricots. It takes water well. Finish: Hints of salted caramel, dark spices and oak. Long.
Just too overpowering without water, but very palatable with a (big) splash of it. The score is basically an average to reflect these two sides. If diluted, I'd add two or three decimal points.