Whiskey Review: Two Very Different Benrinnes

2 min readMay 20, 2020

SMWS of America apparently was releasing some really nice bottlings a decade ago, of which here we have a lovely 23 year old Benrinnes that is truly a delight, and the winner of this face-off.

Random tip: if you ever see any of the old green glass and labels, buy them immediately!

1988 SMWS 36.54 vs 2000 Cadenhead Small Batch 18 Yr

Benrinnes 1988 SMWS 36.54 / 59.2% / £150

This bottle, A cheeky treat for afternoon tea is a Benrinnes distilled 05/1988 and bottled at 23 years of age, a single cask refill sherry butt, one of 483 bottles.

It suffers from a bit of dry cork syndrome, but the cork remained intact and it merely rubbed off a bit.

  • Color: tawny (1.4)
  • Nose: sherry, nutmeg, carrot cake, black licorice, orange peel
  • Taste: a bit of oakiness, rich sweet sherry, vanilla, leather, pizza crust
  • Finish: long, pipe tobacco and honey

Very nice lightly sherried Benrinnes, it accents without overpowering the spirit.

Rating: 91/100

Benrinnes 2000 Cadenhead Small Batch 18 Yr / 55.7% / $82

Another Cadenshead Small Batch Benrinnes, this one with the following stats:

  • Distilled in 2000
  • Bottled in 2019
  • 4 x Bourbon Barrels
  • 618 Bottles

Their label tasting notes:

Nose: Sweet honey with earthy overtunes.  Orange peel with dunnage warehouse and some creamier coconut notes.Palate: Thick and chewy - orange and lemon zest.  Praline, some fizzy sherbet and then milk chocolate, toffee and cardamon.Finish: Faint spice, lemongrass and slightly autumnal.  Some red berries, honeycomb and quite buttery and waxy.
  • Color: deep gold (0.85)
  • Nose: lemon meringue pie, chalk, cut grass, marshmallow
  • Taste: thick and oily, smoked mackerel, malt, slightly-soured milk, salt
  • Finish: long, sandalwood and synthetic orange perfume

This is tolerable. It’s quite estery and would have benefited, I think, from another 5 years in the wood.

Rating: 71/100




Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade