The Original Ten is one of the 4 base-line expressions of BenRiach recently revamped by their master blender, Dr. Rachel Barrie. I had the opportunity to taste all of them side-by-side which always makes for a very interesting experience.
Nose: The League of Generic Citrus Fruits has at long last made peace with their ancient enemy, the Alliance of Various Pears. All of them have gathered in the designated neutral zone located somewhere on the Gentle Oak Plains in order to talk things over and hash out the details of the peace accord. Currently Mr. Average J Grapefruit, a rather mild-mannered fellow, is addressing the crowd in long-winded sentences but nobody is really listening. This thing has been going on for a while and everybody is a bit sleepy and half dozing off. The future looks peaceful albeit a bit boring. This nose has all the non-thrilling pleasantness of the inoffensively decorated lobby of a hopeful, new small business. (6.1/10)
Palate: A little more excitement here. Like a conservative middle-aged office party with generic supermarket cake. The initial hit of flavor in the front is quite nice and delivers some caramel and orange cake notes but it fizzles out quickly as the whisky travels to the back of the tongue and diminishes to a shapeless… sensation. Hard to call it tasting something. It’s sort of a neutral, mildly buzzy wooden board that was washed with the same water someone must have used earlier to rinse off a bunch of citrus fruit. (5.6/10)
Finish: Ah, finally, something is making an effort here! As soon as the whisky goes down a nice puff of oaky breath rolls up the back of my throat. All it’s olfactory elements quickly convert into a pleasant but flavorless heat that mostly lives at the back and top of the throat and mouth. It even manages to, very hesitantly, reach down into the top of the chest. Though it appears to be scared by its own courage like a cat that climbed up to the lowest branch of a tree. Still this part is not bad and has a surprising amount of staying power.(7.2/10)
Balance: Honestly, this is not bad at all. A perfectly reasonable dram to start with or have at bar with a limited selection. Is it great? No. The palate definitely puts a dent in the experience. But the afterglow does manage to make up for it. I’m surprised by just how much I enjoy sitting here with the warmth and residual flavors of the finish and for how long I’m able to do so. (6.9/10)