Benriach Single Malt Scotch has debuted in the U.S. two Scotch whiskies based on early traditional methods of whisky-making.
These are seasonal releases.
Benriach Malting Season is the first expression in a century made entirely using barley malted from the distillery’s floor maltings, the company says.
Benriach Smoke Season is a small-batch release that “captures one of Benriach’s time-honored seasonal production techniques.”
In a nod to the distillery’s mothballed history where it remained in operation through floor malting and producing peated whiskies for other distilleries, Benriach’s expressions reflect practices that now only occur once per year.
For Malting Season, a new seasonal release, Master Blender Rachel Barrie selects the type of barley and bottling strength — in this case, Concerto barley.
After being steeped in water, barley is spread across the malting room floor and turned by hand over several days to allow for germination of the barley. The malting team decides when the barley is ready to move to the kiln.
“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,” says Barrie.
Benriach Malting Season is 48.7% ABV. It retails for a suggested price of $148.99 per 750-ml. bottle. The nose is barley sugar, almond fudge and poached orchard apple, the company reports, before a palate of vanilla and honeyed pear. The finish is lasting nuttiness of slowly kilned malt.
Benriach Smoke Season uses a seasonal practice of when peated spirit runs through the company’s stills — a tradition revived by the distillery more than 50 years ago.
The spirit is the result 100% peated malt, batch distilled and matured in first-fill bourbon barrels, combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American virgin oak casks.
While smoky whiskies are not traditionally associated with Speyside, a look back through Benriach’s archives shows that heavily peated single malts were the preferred palate of the region in the 19th century, the company says. Both smoky and sweet, the special edition matured in both American virgin oak and bourbon barrels — wood types selected to amplify the toasted sweet notes.
With a new recipe finely tuned by Barrie, this expression is the most intensely smoked whisky to be released by the distillery, the company says.
Different to the majority of peat sourced near the sea by distilleries on the West Coast and Islay, Highland peat is sourced from the mainland and derived from trees and heather. This character produces an aromatic smoke that toasts the barley at Benriach, the company says, resulting in a thread of sweet smoke interwoven with Benriach’s traditional orchard fruit character.
“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,” says Barrie. “At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak barley and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks.”
Benriach Smoke Season is 52.8% ABV. It retails for a suggested price of $71.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
On the nose is barbecue smoked fruit in a pine forest, the company reports, with a palate of sweet caramel smoke and cinnamon-spiced roasted apple. The finish contains charred orange peel and hickory.