The Smoky 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 peat jumps right out of the glass with some green, herbal notes that turn slightly floral later on. For some reason this is making me think of those little, biodegradable seed starter pots. Not a whole lot of complexity past that but that’s fine. If you pay careful attention you may notice the faint sparkly of bright citrus notes somewhere underneath it all. (6.8/10)
Palate: Simple and direct. The same peat as described for the nose arrives unceremoniously and unfolds with ease, spreading wide but not particularly high, and simply stays right there at the same level and with the same notes carrying straight into the finish. The first few sips seem to leave a thin slathering of watery sweetness on the tongue but that quickly goes away as the finish begins to dominate the experience. (6.8/10)
Finish: The finish picks up seamlessly from the palate and it manages to wipe out those odd watery bits on the palate. However, it’s almost like the finish is running on a slightly undersized engine. It develops a pleasant warmth but keeps struggling to push it into the chest. It continues the flavors from the palate but keeps fading away like a fire fed with cold logs. One has to breathe on it and then it comes back as if nothing happened. (6.7/10)
Balance: A quite lovely basic expression of a quite strongly peated Speysider. Not overly complex but perfectly satisfying. It’s only real shortcoming is that finish struggling to stay alive, dipping and rising like a tired swimmer. A swimmer wearing smoldering peat speedos. Anyhow, it’s perfectly drinkable and delivers all the comforts of peat. B/c it doesn’t require special attention this one would probably be the perfect whisky to drink while reading an engaging book sitting in a comfortable chair near the fireplace. (6.7/10)