Benriach 1986 11 Year “Adelphi” 63.5%

Birth Year Bottle Review Cask #2838

The fun thing about Jack Rose’s collection is that they seem to have one of everything. Poking through the whisky book and sitting with a fellow 1986 friend, we decided to have a pour of something from that year. A few bourbons and a single grain scotch, nothing interesting enough for my preferences. But then as if it jumped from the page…a cask strength young BenRiach bottled way back in 1997!

I’m already a huge fan of BenRiach so this was serendipity! I ordered a pour for each of us and I couldn’t help but take notes at the bar. From what I could find online via Whisky Base and auctions, this was a sister cask US exclusive release. I’m suspecting it’s simply a refill bourbon barrel as unfortunately, nothing on the label indicates much other than proof.

Tasting Notes

Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 10+ minutes of rest. Very light dilution was added for the second half of the tasting with additional rest of upwards of an hour.

The nose starts out potent and punchy. Lemon tart and graham cracker crust cheesecake. Sweet vanilla and buttered toffee. Adding water and letting it rest for a while longer really started to coax out some unique aromas. Cereal grains came right to the front. Tropical melon notes and guava. From here things turned a bit on its head. Abnormal scents I can only describe as paraffin wax and play dough. Like the stale air when you first open a plastic Lego set. Lastly a notable stubbed-out cigar ashy note.

That lemony curd comes right out on the palate. Zesty citrus and poppyseed muffins. Intensely viscous with no dilution. It reminds me of fresh pressed Greek olive oil, slightly tangy and expressive with a nice peppery bite. Water brings out all of the fruit. Expressed lemon and orange oils. Honeydew and musk melon. Mellows over time in the glass and after it sat for a while I got a classic bubble gum note. Kind of herbal and leaning into the baking spices but I was distracted by the citrus flavors.

This is an all bourbon cask kind of finish. Charcoal and industrial. Cast iron, tin, and a bit of surface rust like I forgot to clean the Dutch oven properly before storing it away in scouts. Orange creamsicle and a tart raspberry note pop with some water added. The barrel char flavors bloom as you let it sit. Sweet tobacco and burnt sugars galore. Finally, I kept getting this hidden lactic sweet cream flavor. It was wonderful and I’d almost describe it as a bougie latte foam.


Trying not to fawn over this one entirely as it definitely has some faults. That industrial plasticine note is not enjoyable. Thankfully it’s mostly hidden by the citrus but could have to do with sitting in a bottle for the last two and a half decades.

Something about letting this one sit longer helped more than adding water to my glass. The textural experience alone was worth the price of admission but I was happy it wasn’t a complete dud like the other 1986 Adelphi BenRiach.

This bottle is long gone from store shelves but if you happen to be sitting at the bar with this one tucked away, buy a pour. You won’t regret it.