Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review - Benriach 10 years old

This whisky was launched in April 2015 and formed the new cornerstone of the award winning Speyside distillery's core range of single malts.  It was a landmark release for the independent ownership, which took over Benriach in 2004.  Previous to this, all Benriach bottlings released by them had been from or included matured stock inherited from the previous owners.  This 10 years old represents the first whisky that was fully produced, matured and bottled by the new owners.  It has been matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and is bottled at 43% ABV.  The recommended retail price is £35.

Benriach is a small distillery that is located in the Speyside region of Scotland, just to the south of the city of Elgin. It was founded in 1897 by John Duff & Co, who built it to aid production at the adjacent Longmorn distillery. They named it (rather unimaginatively) Longmorn 2. The distillery was renamed Benraich, which translates as 'speckled mountain' from Gaelic, in 1965 following a long period of closure.

The distillery is currently owned by The Benriach Distillery Company, who took control from previous owners Pernod Ricard in 2004. The distillery had been closed but the company invested heavily and the Benriach single malt brand has since gone from strength to strength, winning numerous awards. The annual production capacity is approximately 1.8 million litres.

"This marks a significant milestone – it is the first core range expression to be created predominantly from whiskies distilled at Benriach since we took over in 2004. We have, effectively, been working towards this single moment since we acquired the distillery."
Alistair Walker, Sales Director at The Benriach Distillery Co.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose is packed with immediate aromas of honey, vanilla and fresh coconut.  Underneath are further aromas of moscavado sugar, dried apple, sultanas, almonds, raisins and hints of cinnamon and cocoa powder.

On the palate this whisky feels incredibly soft and gentle.  The first note to appear is a distinct one of milk chocolate and this evolves into milky coffee (or maybe mocha) over time.  Additional sweetness then comes through in the forms of toffee, fudge, sugary sultanas, raisins and honey.  These sweet characteristics are complimented by some more savoury notes - think of bitter oranges, dessicated coconut, walnuts, stewed apples and a good pinch of cinnamon.  Late notes of black treacle, vanilla pods, gingerbread and cloves add depth.  With water, the whisky becomes even softer and more buttery and toffee-like.  This knocks back the savoury notes to make it feel sweeter.

The finish is relatively short but nice and warming.  The sweet chocolate, toffee and honey notes fade, while the dark dried fruits linger on.  As these too begin to fade, the savoury notes come through (especially the dried coconut and nutty elements) to make it feel drier and slightly earthy.

What's the verdict?
This Benriach 10 years old has been a decade in the making.  The owners have produced a nice and easy drinking whisky that will appeal to many consumers.  It shows many classic Speyside single malt characteristics and The Benriach Distillery Co have done well to acheive that.  The combination of ex-bourbon and sherry casks seems tilted towards the sherry end of the scale and this adds plenty of richness and sweetness.  A good price also makes this well worth checking out.

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