September 2016 Whisky of the Month:
Matured exclusively in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, The BenRiach Aged 12 Years boasts an IWSC Trophy, a Liquid Gold award and a whopping 95.5/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Join The Club now for exclusive access to more exciting drams like this each month and great member perks.
Country of Origin:
Earlier this year The BenRiach Distillery Company, including BenRiach Distillery, Glenglassaugh Distillery and Glendronach Distillery, was acquired for a record sum by American giant Brown Forman in a move that can only mean good things for whisky fans and the distilleries alike as we eagerly enter the next chapter of this remarkable institution’s life.
It all began back in 1898 when John Duff established The BenRiach (meaning ‘speckled mountain’), having already set up the famous Longmorn Distillery five years prior. The two distilleries were joined by a private railroad on which ‘The Puggy’, a steam locomotive, used to transport coal, barley, peat and barrels. A fantastic set up by all accounts in the golden years of whisky making, but sadly the BenRiach’s fortunes were very short lived. You see BenRiach was just one of at least 33 Scottish distilleries established in the industry boom of the late 1890s to cater for consumers’ ever-growing thirst for the golden nectar, 21 of which were also in Speyside… 100 points if you can guess what happened next… Yes, it all comes crashing down in 1899 when Pattison’s, one of the major buyers at the time, went into liquidation in what is now known as ‘The Pattinson Whisky Crisis’. An all-too-familiar tale of boom and bust.
Thus John Duff was forced to sell his distilleries in the first of a long chain of successive BenRiach acquisitions through it’s aptly speckled history, and the Longmorn Distillery Co Ltd bought BenRiach in 1900. Longmorn shut the stills but continued to use BenRiach’s maltings. Glenlivet Distillers Ltd then bought BenRiach in 1965 and started producing spirit again, only to sell to Seagrams in 1977. And so it continued as a second set of stills was added in 1985 and growth ensued up to the point Seagrams was acquired by Pernod Ricard in 2001 and the distillery incredibly wound back operations to just three months of the year.
However, come 2004 the tables finally turned, making whisky history, when the distillery was acquired by an independent consortium led by industry legend Billy Walker and backed by whisky mad South Africans Wayne Kieswetter and Geoff Bell. The BenRiach Distillery Company Limited was formed and BenRiach won it’s independence.
Not keen to sit around, the guys turned BenRiach into a bit of cult distillery and expanded their portfolio in 2008 with the acquisition of the Glendronach distillery followed by the Glenglassaugh distillery in March 2013. Like with all things in life, good work seldom goes unnoticed, particularly when that work involves reviving three distilleries to cult status. Following their acquisition by Brown Forman earlier this year we’re on the edge of our seats to see where the industry powerhouse will take them next.
About BenRiach Single Malt Whisky:
Those of you who’ve been with the Club for a while will know that one of the undisputed highlights of the year is our annual pilgrimage to the BenRiach Distillery. To date it’s one of only two distilleries we’ve ever returned to, and for good reason.
BenRiach is famous for it’s incredibly wide range of whiskies and is one of the only distilleries in Scotland to still do it’s own floor malting in order to produce both peated and unpeated malts, something that it does incredibly well.
The distillery’s core range is unpeated and includes a signature NAS, 10yo, 16yo and 20yo. This range embodies the smooth, complex, full flavoured character traditionally associated with the Speyside region. All have elegant full taste and aroma that captures fruity floral notes with overtones of honey, vanilla, spices, toffee and apples. The core range has grown over the years to include an ever-increasing number of special and curious releases that has earned BenRiach it’s cult status amongst serious malt enthusiasts. This includes the Peated Range, Wood Finish Range, Premium Expressions and Limited Releases.
This month’s whisky comes from the highly acclaimed Wood Finish Range. The rest of the whiskies in the range are all generally matured in American oak casks before being finished in a wide range of casks including Pedro Ximenez, Madeira, Dark Rum, Tawny Port, Claret, Burgundy and Rioja.
The multi-award winning BenRiach Aged 12 Years Matured in Sherry Wood is matured exclusively in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks and boasts an IWSC Trophy, a Liquid Gold award and a whopping 95.5/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Bursting with mocha, dark chocolate, sultanas, figs, vanilla and rich spices it’s one of the world’s most sought after “sherry bombs” and a must-have for any whisky collection.
Age on release:
This single malt has been created by marrying together whiskies matured for a minimum of 12 years in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry butts sourced from Jerez in Southern Spain.
The BenRiach quick facts
Place of origin: By Elgin, Morayshire, IV30 8SJ, Scotland, United Kingdom
Water source: Burnside Springs
Number of stills: 2 wash and 2 spirit
Capacity: 2,800,000 litres of alcohol per year
Colour: Deep gold / bronze
Nose: A sumptuous mix of mocha, dark chocolate and sultanas, followed by rich notes of toasted cinnamon, clove and nutmeg with baked apples and orange blossom. Nothing dominates – this is absolute textbook balance.
Palate: The combination of Oloroso and sweet, sticky Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks gives a wonderful balance of mocha and dark chocolate interwoven with figs, ripe raisins, sultanas, vanilla, fruits and rich Christmas-cake spices.
Finish: Extraordinarily long and lingering with sweet, rich fruit. The epitome of moreish, very well balanced and displaying a level of maturity in a class of its own.
Char siu pork followed by dark chocolate brownies and mature cheddar