Nose: Classic, muscular Benrinnes with an added and immensely seductive sweetness rippling through it. Crème brulée with a highly caramelised surface. Intense black fruits (prunes), Christmas cake and dates, laced with rich sherry. Behind, a beefy note with some allspice, like a touch of gravy left in the meat pan. Water (just a splash) initially brings the toffee-apple sweetness even more into focus above such meatiness. As it becomes waxier the fruity notes withdraw, yet some moist Christmas cake remains – much later, the meatiness reasserts itself. Superb balance and complexity.
Body: Heavy. Full. Immediate grip.
Palate: Big, powerful and immediately assertive. Sweet, then mouth drying, yet not astringent because that concentrated sweetness remains. Waxy-viscous texture; slight traces of brimstone. Raisin and lots of date. Softens as it moves slowly across the tongue. Water lightens the grip and introduces a lightly smoked character. The voluptuous texture is countered by tannic dryness. Sweet to start and beefy, in all senses. Very, very good.
Finish: Exceptionally long, dry and warming, leaving a mellow, lingering aftertaste of treacle and sandalwood.