Benriach, a Speyside distillery exclusive for single Malt Scotch whisky has unveiled their USA debut expression of two Scotch whisky – Malting Season and Smoke Season made obeying the traditionality of the spirit industry and Speyside distillery. These are first in a century, where a single malt bottling is created entirely from using barley malted from the distillery’s historic floor maltings, producing a whole new look to the authenticity of the Scottish spirit industry – including new names, one rejiggered recipe, and a brand new expression. Benriach Malting Season, was the first expression in the core range of whiskey to be produced in the traditional ritualistic style, followed by the Benriach Smoke Season, which was produced in the Benriach’s time-honored seasonal production techniques. Each of the whiskies features a unique maturation program using three different cask types, maintaining the distillery’s mothballed history which typically is operated through the floor malting, producing peated whiskies for other distilleries as well. These Benriach’s expressions reflect the time-honored practices that now only occur once a year and are released seasonally only. (The brand has also dropped the medial capital R in its name, much to the relief of copy editors everywhere.)
Benriach’s first edition, the Malting Season, is created using a unique process that brings out a wholesome creamy flavor found in the distillery’s floor malted spirit. For each new edition of Malting Season, Master Blender Rachel Barrie carefully selects the type of barley and bottling strength – in this case, Concerto barley – each is made of an independent but new flavor profile for the annual edition, making it exclusive in its extent. The floor malting method is a highly skilled process that requires highly skilled craftsmen with extreme dedication and mastered hands. After being steeped in water, the barley is spread across the malting room floor and turned by hand over several days to allow for optimum germination of the barley. Using their keen eye, the malting team decides when the barley is ready to move to the kiln and the iconic pagoda-shaped chimney comes alive.
“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with Benriach being one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the practice of floor malting,” he further added. “Distilling spirit from barley malted here on site is a true labor of love and something we are passionate about keeping alive here at Benriach as an ode to our creative whisky-making heritage.”Master Blender Rachel Barrie stated on these
Benriach Smoke Season is another expression made from a small batch using the distillery’s seasonal production techniques where peated spirit runs through its stills. This expression represents over half a decade of the authenticity of the Benriach distillery. The spirit is the result of exploring 100% intensely peated malt and is matured in first-fill bourbon barrels combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American virgin oak casks. Highland peat is the primary source, sourced from the mainland and derived from ancient trees and heather, which resulted in a sweet smoke interwoven with Benriach’s staple orchard fruit character – according to the official tasting notes.
“Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery’s calendar, and this new addition gives both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet, and smoky character of Benriach single malt, crafted in Speyside, a whisky-making region rarely associated with peated malt. At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak barley, and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks.”By Barrie
This smoky whisky is not exactly of Benriach type but if looked through the archives it shows that heavily peated single malts were the preferred palate of the region in the 19th century. Both of these are intensely smoked and exquisitely sweet, the special edition has been matured in both American virgin oak and bourbon barrels – wood types intentionally selected to amplify the toasted sweet notes in Benriach’s smoky spirit. As the majority of peat is sourced near the sea by distilleries on the West Coast and Islay, Highland peat is sourced from the mainland and derived from ancient trees and heather. This creates a distinct aromatic smoke that toasts the barley at Benriach, resulting in an intense thread of sweet smoke interwoven with Benriach’s staple orchard fruit character.
- Two casks matured: Bourbon and Virgin Oak
- 48.7% ABV, $148.99 suggested retail price (750ml)
- Color: Barley gold
- Nose: Barley sugar, almond fudge, and poached orchard apple
- Palate: Vanilla and honeyed pear
- Finish: Lasting nuttiness of slowly kilned malt
- Two casks matured: Bourbon and Virgin Oak
- 52.8% ABV, $71.99 suggested retail price (750ml)
- Color: Burnished gold
- Nose: Barbecue smoked fruit in a pine forest
- Palate: Sweet caramel smoke and cinnamon-spiced roasted apple
- Finish: Charred orange peel and hickory
About Benriach Distillery
Benriach Distillery was founded in 1897, by John Duff to fulfill his long-standing desire to build his distillery. Benriach is a typical Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery that produces both peated and unpeated single malt – a rarest among the Speyside distilleries that can produce both the type, establishing an extraordinary heritage of itself. Ruggedly beautiful, Benriach stands on the site of the old Riach farm in north Speyside, drawing water from a mineral-rich aquifer, deep beneath the distillery. The long-standing style of Benriach whiskies namely – classic unpeated, Highland peated, and triple distilled, together with an eclectic selection of casks from around the world, makes their whiskey able to explore the full flavor possibilities of Single Malt, creating some of the richest, most multi-layered whiskies in Speyside. This traditionality continues today, under the guidance of Master Blender, Rachel Barrie.
For More Information visit their website.