Because it is not enough to have a regular bottling and a smoky version of that bottling. You also need to use every cask under the sun when doing so.
Of course, there are far more types of casks available than these three, but it seems a bit arbitrary. Were they going for oak driven (with the virgin oak), sweetness (with rum and bourbon casks) or a smoky diversion from the regular BenRiach whisky?
I got my hands on this bottle when I organized a whisky tasting at work a while ago. When I do such a thing, I like to introduce people to it by going for contrasts. Pit a young and an old whisky against each other to see what aging does (Glenfarclas 8 and 25). Pit a sherry and a bourbon cask matured whisky against each other (in this case 2 Arrans). I picked the BenRiach because it offers both peated and unpeated whiskies from the same distillery.
This one was quite popular, but general popularity and standing up to scrutiny from (without trying to be arrogant) someone who has a bit more experience are two different things. I was quite curious though, because the BenRiach Curiositas was very good value for money some years ago!
Straight forward vanilla focused whisky, with a definite peaty edge. Apples, applesauce, oak, straw. Lots of yellow things. After a while there’s some lemon curd as well.
Much like the nose, it’s very straight forward, and therefore a bit bland. There’s nothing happening that makes this whisky stand out from comparable stuff. However, I have to say, it tastes like it is quite well made. Apples, oak, only a whiff of smoke.
The finish is slightly bitter. Not nutty, but there’s a bitterness. Some oak, some vanilla. Some grass and straw too.
The smokiness gets a bit too gentle towards the end. The spirit is good, but there’s nothing about this whisky that I’ll remember in a week. I think the virgin oak and bourbon casks have imparted a boatload of vanilla, which is already a sweet flavor. Add the rum cask to that and we’re in rather syrupy territory quickly. A bit too much so, if you ask me.
I think the Curiositas, even though it has the same cask mixture, was a lot better. Maybe that’s just my memory of it, because it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s all the same stuff. But at least there, in my memory, it’s better.
Regularly available for about € 45