I haven't had a lot of experience with Benrinnes, but it's one of those distilleries that I've been meaning to explore more of. Their complicated partial triple distillation system up until 2007 is purported to give their spirit a unique character distinct from its other Speyside brethren.
This whisky was distilled in March 2004, filled into a refill hogshead, then bottled in November 2015 at 46% without coloring or chill filtration.
I purchased this sample from Dramtime, which still has samples as well as full bottles.
Provenance Benrinnes 11 Year 2004/2015 Cask #DL10965
Nose: lots of fresh malt, vanilla, light oak. After adding a few drops of water the nose becomes a little more expressive with some green apples and pears and a little citrus peel.
Taste: sweet malt up front with a slightly sour tang, some vague fruit and floral notes in the middle, then a fade gently into the finish. After dilution the flavors are brighter, the fruit is amplified, some vanilla comes out, and some of the notes from the finish creep forward into the middle.
Finish: oak-y incense, slightly savory, coffee beans, floral, pineapple
At full strength the only real redeeming feature I can find here is in the finish. The rest is almost a completely generic Speyside malt. The complexity and depth of the finish does make up for a lot, but I have to wonder how much better it could be if this case had been left alone for a while longer. More development in the aromas and flavors would have kicked this up several notches. Water helps bring it together and I wonder if this would have been better off bottled at 43%, but it's still not all that it could be.
What this does is make me interested in the van Wees cask strength release from the same vintage but two more years in the cask at roughly the same price. Even if that required the same level of dilution to open up, I'd at least get more to drink out of it.
11 hours ago