Let us cast our minds back to the heady days of the Punic Wars. Love was in the air, The Romans were just figuring out how to make a truly spectacular pork sugo, and the Carthaginians, long dominant in sea battle and handball were getting their butts kicked for the first time. Once understaffed and less floaty than their opponents, the Romans had slapped together a bunch of ships in short order and added a unique and innovative…curiositas, one could say, to enable them to spend more time fighting hand-to-hand, which they preferred. Just like anyone would, I suppose. They equipped the ships with a swinging bridge called a corvus, which was attached to the mast and had a lethal looking spike on the end to dig into the enemies poop deck. The corvus would swing out and down on to the opponents ship and the Romans would simply jog across and unleash their Classical fury on the poor Carthaginians who had never conceived of a thing called a corvus.
It’s a shame really that BenRiach only just recently began bottling their latin-named peated series, because battle weary Romans were probably a thirsty bunch and something named “Curiositas” would’ve really hit the spot and made them feel right at home. Since BenRiach’s rebirth in 2004, they’ve created an extensive and ambitious line of malts. Along with their expected Speysiders, they have lines of peated single malts, wood finishes, heavily peated wood finishes and a smattering of limited releases. The peated releases all have dead language sounding names like Authenticus and Heredotus Fumosus with the Curiositas being the youngest, most widely available member of the brood.
The Nose: At once a really nice and well-integrated peaty and slightly fruity nose. The peat is not very smokey, just bright, and vegetal, with a little fresh-cut green grass. The fruit is a bit harder to distinguish, faint, ripe stone fruit and apple. There are also nice grain notes, subtle vanillin and a touch of roasted cashews
The Palate: The entry and mouthfeel are fairly full-bodied and doesn’t waste much time getting right to the peat point with the fruit notes from the nose taking a back seat. The peat starts honeyed, then turns green and a little floral, and heading into to the finish, gets pretty spicy with nice green wood smoke and oak.
The Finish: Nice length, surprising amount of drying oak along with the peat and green wood smoke.
Thoughts: Knowing that this is a Speyside malt, it truly is a something of a curiosit..as…curiosity. Really nicely balanced and structured, I’m guessing while there’s probably no small amount of 10 year in here, there are some nicely matured older malts as well. The peat does take center stage, with any traces of its Speyside upbringing just peeping in from the wings, but it’s a much cleaner, brighter peat, not the aggressive, blackened rubber, heavily smokey variety of Islay. If you’re a fan of peat, this is definitely worth checking out, I’m looking forward to trying other BenRiach peated expressions.
*only fools laugh at the latin language