The Twelve 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. This one turned out to be my favorite in that group.
Nose: Whoa… what a change from the Original 10! Usually I expect age to round off and diminish certain notes but this one has truly come to life with just another 2 years added. Darkly stained antique oranges, pleasingly arranged on an equally antique leather topped oak desk that’s been polished perhaps a week ago. A well disciplined nose, too. Somehow it’s managing to form a fairly precisely delineated volume hovering half an inch above the top of the glass like a mushroom cap and it doesn’t seem to move or spread from there. You can sort of just stick your nose into that space whenever you feel like having another whiff. This is quite nice! (7.7/10)
Palate: For a bottle strength whisky that’s a surprisingly bulky and solid mass pushing its way through the door, warmly buzzing into the room and spreading itself around comfortably wherever it can. It’s sort of all the bits from the nose but not in that formal arrangement. All the bits of wood, leather and antique oranges are stuck in a mildly sweet blob of delicious, honeyed dessert goop. The sweetness added to the other notes make for a nice balance of flavor all around. And unlike the Original 10 it doesn’t quickly fade away either. This is also quite nice! (7.7/10)
Finish: I wish the flavors of the palate carried over into the finish more. There are echoes that come to life on each breath but primarily the finish is all about an intense bright spot of heat in the very back of the throat radiating in every direction and, once again surprisingly for a bottle strength dram, quite deep into the chest. After waiting for a bit the deep and comforting heat makes you forget and forgive the loss of the palate’s flavors. If I was rating for the immediate finish only it I would have rated it slightly lower. But, after all, this is quite nice! (7.7/10)
Balance: Well now. Comparing this against the Original 10… we have a clear winner. Almost everything about this is, forgive me, quite nice! And the brief disappointment I experienced with the early finish can be easily forgiven. Nicely done, Dr. Rachel Barrie! (7.7/10)