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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Benriach

MoM Loves: Benriach Malting Season

Benriach’s traditional floor malting reopened in 2012, and, nine long years later, the very first Benriach Malting Season release has landed at Master of Malt. So we took a closer…

Benriach’s traditional floor malting reopened in 2012, and, nine long years later, the very first Benriach Malting Season release has landed at Master of Malt. So we took a closer look at this historic release from the Speyside distillery.

Paid partnership

Good things come to those who wait. In 2012 Speyside distillery Benriach began using its old floor maltings to malt barley the traditional way. In 2018, we visited in the company of master blender Rachel Barrie. She gave us two new makes to try, one made with bought-in malt, and one using barley malted on the premises. The latter was fuller, funkier and packed full of flavour. We knew something exciting was in the pipeline.

Benriach Distillery in Speyside

The pagoda at Benriach is not just for show

Doing things the traditional way

Floor malting is a labour-intensive technique practised by very few distilleries these days. Stewart Buchanan, global brand ambassador at Benriach, elaborated: “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. Distilling spirit from barley malted here on site is a true labour of love and something we are passionate about keeping alive here at Benriach.”

The process involves highly-skilled maltsters who spread barley that has been steeped in water on the malting floor and turn it by hand over several days for optimum germination of the barley. They then move it to the kiln where it’s dried under the pagoda-shaped chimney. This pagoda has become the symbol of Scotch whisky but for most distilleries, it’s now just for show. At Benriach it’s both beautiful and functional. 

Benriach’s turbulent history

The past has come back to life, but for much of its history, Benriach was at death’s door. It opened in 1898 at the height of a long boom in Scotch whisky. It was built by John Duff & Co as the sister distillery to neighbouring Longmorn. Sadly, the bust came soon after with the collapse of Pattison’s whisky blenders the same year and Benriach closed in 1900.

Unlike many other speculative distilleries built at the time, Benriach wasn’t demolished because the floor maltings stayed open to supply malted barley for its neighbour. The stills, however, remained dormant until 1965 when Benriach was bought by the Glenlivet Company.

The distillery changed hands a few more times. The floor maltings was closed in 1996 and then with demand dwindling, production stopped entirely in 2002. Happily, the distillery was bought by a dynamic company headed by industry veteran Billy Walker, and it became part of a group including GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh. The three were then acquired by distilling giant Brown-Forman in 2016. You might know it from a Tennessee whiskey called Jack Daniel’s.

Rachel Barrie tasting whisky

Dr Rachel Barrie in action

Myriad styles

Throughout Benriach’s chequered history a range of different styles, unpeated, peated and, unusually, triple-distilled have been produced. All three are still made today (you can read about the distillery’s revamped core range here) but for this inaugural Maltings Season release Barrie has kept it simple: the Concerto barley is dried without peat and double-distilled.

There is also a vast range of casks in the warehouse. On our visit, Barrie pointed out Port pipes, sherry butts, Marsala casks, virgin wood barrels and, of course, plenty of ex-bourbon casks. For this very special release, Barrie has used an unusual ageing regime with the new make aged in both ex-bourbon and virgin oak barrels. This accentuates the fruity and cereal character of the new make. It’s bottled at 48.7% ABV.

Worth the wait

She explained: “At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak and barley flavours intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks. The unique process behind Malting Season allows the cereal flavour from the concerto barley to pull through and when married with the creamy, wholesome flavour from being two-cask matured in bourbon and virgin oak barrels, creates a truly unique expression.”

This first batch consists of only 23 barrels which were all distilled on 2 November 2012, yielding 6672 bottles at 48.7% ABV. The will be the first in a regular release of special floor-malted Benriach.

We were given a little sample and have to say that it was truly worth the wait (full tasting note below). There’s a strong cereal note on the nose with fresh apple fruit with creamy vanilla notes; the palate balances custard with peppery spice, cinnamon, and toffee with that fresh fruit note running through it. If you like a dram with a zest for life, then you’ll love this.

It’s sure to be highly in-demand so we don’t think it will hang around long. Click here to taste a little bit of history. 

Benriach Malting Season KV landscape

Tastings note from the Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Pear drops and Campino sweeties, with earthy barley and a smidge of cut oak for balance.

Palate: Vanilla, lemon, grassy malt, toffee, melted butter on crumpets.

Finish: Lasting sweetness of caramel and vanilla pod on the finish.

 

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The Nightcap: 30 April

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and to kick things off in the right direction we’ve got a whole week’s worth of smoking hot booze news. It’s all in the Nightcap:…

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and to kick things off in the right direction we’ve got a whole week’s worth of smoking hot booze news. It’s all in the Nightcap: 30 April edition! 

We’ve got a long weekend ahead of us as the May Bank Holiday has arrived, in the UK at least, everyone else is thinking, what the hell is a ‘bank holiday’? Anyway, we’re all hoping for a sliver of sunshine so that we’re not shivering in pub gardens or in those makeshift tent type things outside restaurants. Maybe bring a blanket, just in case. Of course, you don’t have to venture out if you don’t want to. You can always kick back and relax with a good dram and enjoy The Line of Duty season finale. Or some light reading. Like a round-up of all the interesting things that happened in the world of booze this week. Good thing there’s a new edition of The Nightcap here!

This week on the MoM blog we paid tribute to the remarkable Tomas Estes, who has sadly passed away. Be sure to raise a glass to the Tequila pioneer tonight.

Elsewhere, we launched two new competitions, one a #BagThisBundle which gives you a chance to stock up on some Duppy Share Rum and the other promising an amazing adventure to the Lakes District courtesy of the Lakes Distillery. We also helped you explore the world of rum with some of our favourite bottlings, made a classic cocktail that features in Charlie Chaplin’s Caught in a Cabaret, enjoyed the latest vintage of a great Champagne, uncovered the story behind Don Julio Tequila and found out what the heck a swan neck is.

Now, let’s enjoy what the drinks industry had to offer in the last seven days. It’s The Nightcap: 30 April!

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

It’s likely this whiskey was distilled sometime between 1763 to 1803!

‘World’s oldest whiskey’ to be sold at auction

If you want a chance at owning a whiskey billed as “the oldest currently known bottle” then put 22-30 June in your diary. Because that’s when you’ll be able to bid on a legendary bottle of Old Ingledew bourbon. Skinner Auctioneers are selling the remarkable spirit, which was originally thought to be from 1850. However, when Skinner rare spirits expert Joseph Hyman used a needle to extract a small sample of the liquid to be sent off for carbon dating, the results were even more incredible. It was revealed that the most likely date this bourbon was distilled (with 81.1% probability) was between 1763 to 1803. It’s impossible to place a specific age statement. But historical records confirm that it’s among the oldest distilled whiskey remaining on the planet today. We know a little bit about the history of the bottle thanks to a press release from Skinner Auctioneers. It was purchased by John Pierpoint Morgan (Yep, that J.P. Morgan) in Georgia in the late 19th century. It was originally stored in demijohn so Morgan paid a visit to a speciality grocer in LaGrange to have several decanters worth of the whiskey bottled. His son Jack eventually ended up with some bottles, giving a few away including to US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Another recipient was James F. Byrnes, who subsequently gave the bottle to close friend and whiskey lover Francis Drake, who knew the value of what he had and for three successive generations, his family kept a cork in it. This is why we have this incredible, roughly 250-year-old, bottle now. Although we wouldn’t hold out too much hope that you’ll get your hands on this one. We imagine demand will be pretty high… 

Rémy and Usher team up to celebrate their roots

It wouldn’t be a Nightcap without a celeb/booze mash-up and we’ve got a particularly good one this week. Cognac house Rémy Martin has produced a video called “Team Up For Excellence” starring ‘00s music ledge Usher. The video, put together by composer Raphael Saadiq, director and choreographer Jake Nava, and Oscar-winning costume designer Marci Rodgers, tells the story of the links between Cognac and American music. “I was really inspired by creating the historical music scenes in a way that felt true to the spirit of that moment, but also relevant and eye‐catching to a young contemporary audience,” Nava explains. “This dual priority informed my direction of all the music, dance and Usher’s performance.” The video opens with Usher as a GI in World War I liberating France, moves to a jazz club and through the ages, taking in different musical genres. “Music doesn’t need Cognac to exist, and Cognac doesn’t need music to exist,” Usher said, “but what is beautiful is that they were meant to meet and when they did, they created cultural harmony.” The video is a cut above most spirits adverts and well worth five minutes of your time. 

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

If anyone does manage to get a taste of his let us know if it’s as good as it looks

Loch Lomond unveils 45-year-old whisky 

It just wouldn’t be The Nightcap without a remarkable and rare Scotch whisky to stare at longingly. And this next beauty will surely appear in auctions itself in the not too distant future. It’s a 45-year-old single malt from Loch Lomond Distillery, distilled in 1973 and matured in American oak casks, before finishing for one year in a first-fill Oloroso sherry cask. It’s bottled at 42.2% ABV without chill-filtration and there are only 200 individually-numbered bottles to be released out in the whisky wild, which goes some way to explaining the £3,450 price tag. It’s one the first of three releases in The Remarkable Stills Series of single malts, a collection that will shine a spotlight on the Alexandria-based distillery’s unusual straight neck pot stills. The stills are unique to Loch Lomond and give the distiller more control of the type of spirit produced, allowing for greater separation of flavours, helping to create the distinct fruity characters that Loch Lomond has become famous for. The launch of the significant Scotch follows a branding refresh and extension of the Loch Lomond Whiskies portfolio, which includes the introduction of a 21 and 30 Year Old to the range. A new webpage was also made to detail exactly how the liquid was created. So you can at least live vicariously through that info, because the sad reality is that most of us won’t be tasting this whisky.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

The distillery is one of the most picturesque in the country

Glasgow Whisky buys Tromie Mills Distillery

Those of you familiar with Glasgow Whisky will know that, since being founded in 2007, the company has plied its trade in selling award-winning independently-bottled Scotch whisky like Speymhor and Cailleach. But now the company is venturing into the world of distillation after purchasing its first distillery site. Glasgow Whisky, not to be confused with The Glasgow Distillery Co., has bought Tromie Mills Distillery Limited, owner of the site in Drumguish, Kingussie, which is currently occupied by Speyside Distillers. The latter will continue to operate from the Drumguish site until its lease expires in Spring 2025 (and already has another distillery on the way) and then Glasgow Whisky will refurbish the building, working with local suppliers. While we’ll have to wait a while to see them take advantage of the new venture, we imagine owners Graham Taylor and Stuart Hendry will be excited to run one of the most picturesque distillery sites in Scotland in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park. The duo is said to be committing significant investment to build a sustainable, energy-efficient and contemporary distillery that will acknowledge the heritage of the site. “Our plans for the distillery will give us the opportunity to celebrate an established and known site, whilst bringing it into the 21st century in terms of distilling innovation, sustainability and production methods. We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to evolve our business,” says Hendry.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

The swanky new distillery will be home to the creation of rum, gin, vodka, sambuca and more

English Spirit to open cutting-edge distillery

And in more distillery-based news, the folks over at English Spirit are set to open their new state-of-the-art distillery this summer. Over the past three years, the team has been converting a disused agricultural building in the ground of the historic Treguddick Manor in the rolling Cornish countryside. At the heart of the distillery will sit a custom 2,500-litre copper still, engineered by Dr John Walters, master distiller and owner of English Spirit, based on the original 200-litre alembic stills he designed for Great Yeldham Hall. And the team expects to produce 50,000 bottles of tasty booze by the end of 2021, so that still is going to be kept busy. When the distillery officially opens later this summer, tours and tasting experiences will invite the public to see how English Spirit produces its wide varieties of spirits from scratch. Walters says the brand wanted to open another site to “further our place in England’s high-quality food and drink industry and to show off what we do best, via educational tours, tastings and even cooking with spirits”. If you’d like to learn more about this unique brand, you can read all about our visit last year here!

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

We’re sad to see the lager go

Diageo calls last orders on Guinness spin-off Hop House 13

Fans of the Guinness-made Hop House lager might want to stock up on any bottles they can find because Diageo is calling time on the brand in the UK. As reported by Daniel Woolfson in The Grocer, the Guinness spin-off has been delisted and will soon disappear from supermarkets, pubs and bars. Diageo launched Hop House 13 in 2015 to ensure it wasn’t being left out of the craft beer boom and was an initial success. But sales have slumped during the pandemic. According to data from Nielsen, Hop House lost 8.7% of its value over the 52 weeks to 5 September 2020, falling £2.5m to £26.7m, with volume down by 12.5%. The drinks giant says it had undertaken a review of its beer portfolio and “taken the strategic decision to prioritise the main Guinness trademark in Great Britain”, adding that it was “a difficult decision to make, but one that we believe is right for Guinness in the long term”. The good news is that Guinness itself is still going strong. The good folks over at Nielsen revealed much more joyous stats about the classic Irish stout, showing that it added £27m to its value, rising to £104.5m over the same period – a 35% gain. If you’d like to get your hands on either, you can find them both here.

The Nightcap: 30 April edition

What a beautiful sight

The Craigellachie Hotel to re-open its doors

As pubs and bars all over the UK continue the glorious process of opening their doors once again we were delighted to learn that The Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside will be doing the very same. The 26-room hotel stands at the heart of the largest whisky region in the world and home to the Quaich bar, one of the world’s leading whisky bars, will open its famous Copper Dog Pub and new outdoor terrace area. A brand new menu created by newly-appointed executive chef and general manager William Halsall (of Le Caprice, 34 Grosvenor Square, and The Ivy fame) will be available, as will a take-away menu. Halsall says that the team has gone through “vigorous training in preparation for reopening without compromising our friendly, home from home experience”. The upgraded outdoor dining experience will offer seating for an additional thirty guests and there will be hand sanitising stations at every entrance and social distancing in place, as safety remains an obvious concern. Reservations are mandatory and can be made through sevenrooms.com or by calling 01340 881204, while the Copper Dog pub is open seven days a week between 10am-10pm. Accommodation will then open from 17 May and guests will be able to book online here. Just in time for the return of distillery tours too. It’s all coming together!

Stewart Buchanan Benriach

If you’re lucky you might find Stewart Buchanan behind the bar at Benriach

Benriach opens to the public for the first time

And talking of visiting Speysdie, there’s now a new distillery to visit, Benriach. Well, it’s not new as such, the distillery dates back to 1898, but from 21 May is the first time it’s ever been open to the general public. Brown-Forman has put a lot of thought and money into the refurbishment: there’s a bar, shop, and tasting lounge, and two ‘tasting experiences.’ You can book here. Beginners can enjoy the ‘Sense of Flavour’ while more experienced whiskiests can explore the flavours of cask maturation with ‘Barrels, Butts, and Barriques’, which includes a dram of Benriach 21 Year Old. Visitor centre manager Jennifer Proctor explained: “From cask tastings to cocktails, we’ll initially be offering two flight-style tasting experiences that allow customers to explore Benriach’s flavour spectrum. When restrictions allow, we will reveal our full distillery tour offering and announce the next phase of the distillery visitor centre development. Whether a local to Speyside or visitor from further afield, we look forward to welcoming guests from near and afar to discover Benriach’s world of flavour.” If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.

Terrace bar at Clynelish

Nice view from the terrace bar at Clynelish

Johnnie Walker brand home opens at Clynelish 

Another day, another renovated distillery opens up. Must be something in the air. As part of Diageo’s £185 million investment in ‘Four Corners’ whisky tourism, Clynelish Distillery will be opening to the public as ‘Highland home of Johnnie Walker’. Glenkinchie opened up last year with Cardhu in Speyside, and the Princes Street location in Edinburgh both due to open later this year. Opening date for the revamped Caol Ila is TBC. The renovation at Clynelish includes an ‘interactive story room’ (whatever that is), a ‘modern retail space’ (shop), and a ‘terrace bar’ (we know what that is) overlooking the Highland scenery. The team has worked closely with disabled charity Euan’s Guide to make sure the place is as accessible as possible.  Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scottish brand homes, commented on what we could expect from the visitor experience:  “We can guarantee that Clynelish won’t disappoint. We know that visitors and locals will be blown away by the distillery – by a visitor experience that is unlike any other.” Crikey! What could she possibly mean? Naturally, there’s a limited edition commemorative bottling, a 50.6% ABV 16 Year Old. Only 3,000 bottles at £195 each have been filled and you’ll have to visit the distillery in order to buy one.

Britannia, Boston Lincs credit: batemans

The Britannia, in Boston Lincs Photo courtesy of Batemans Brewery

And finally…. Get paid to go to the pub

In a bit of news that sounds too good to be true, Lincolnshire County Council is offering a £28,000 salary to someone to research the county’s historic pubs as part of its ‘Inns on the Edge’ project. The year long job will involve visiting various pubs along a 50 mile stretch of coastline from Grimsby to Boston. But it’s not all beer and skittles, the perfect candidate should be “someone who can interview people and get stories from them, but also collect photographs, historic photographs of the pubs and the activities that used to go on in and around and associated with the pub,” as Ian George from the council explained. The purpose of the project is to record a living history that is rapidly disappearing as pubs around the county (and the country) close. A process exacerbated by the pandemic. So not quite such a funny story to end on as it initially appeared. The moral is, don’t neglect your local, even if you have to stand outside shivering a bit.

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The winner of a VIP trip to Benriach Distillery is…

Want to know who has won an amazing VIP trip to Benriach Distillery? Good, because we’re about to announce the victor of our competition… I know it seems like a…

Want to know who has won an amazing VIP trip to Benriach Distillery? Good, because we’re about to announce the victor of our competition

I know it seems like a lifetime ago now, but if you cast your minds back to January 2021 you may recall that we launched one of those swanky VIP trip competitions we love putting together.

This particular one promised the incredible opportunity to not just visit Speyside’s delightful Benriach Distillery, but enjoy a tasting experience, a tour of Speyside Cooperage, all kinds of delicious food and more. 

VIP trip to Benriach Distillery

Mr Richards will be heading here to enjoy some delicious Scotch whisky and more!

It’s a whisky lover’s paradise and honestly, we’d love to send all of you who entered to enjoy the spoils of this competition. But, there can only be one winner. And that person is…

Mr Nicholas Richards from Rayleigh, Essex!

Huge congratulations to you, Mr Richards. We sincerely hope you enjoy your VIP trip. 

For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to win this time, simply click this neat little link to check out the many other competitions we have running at the moment. And be sure to keep an eye out for future ones…

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The Nightcap: 26 February

The Nightcap makes its final February appearance for 2021 with news on record-breaking whisky, a host of new releases and the life-affirming effects of gin-soaked raisins. Happy Friday, folks. If…

The Nightcap makes its final February appearance for 2021 with news on record-breaking whisky, a host of new releases and the life-affirming effects of gin-soaked raisins.

Happy Friday, folks. If you’re in England, you’re no doubt excited or anxious about the roadmap to end the country’s lockdown measures. It makes you think that at some point all this will just be a bizarre collective memory we share. But while we wait for normality to return, we still need to find ways to pass the time. And thankfully there’s always enough going on in the drinks industry to keep us entertained. Just look at this week’s Nightcap, for example. It’s bursting at the seams with boozy happenings.

As was the MoM blog this week, as Kristy revelled in her good fortune at tasting the remarkable Bowmore 27 Year Old – Timeless Series, Ian Buxton returned to unmask a mysterious billionaire Scooby-Doo-style while Lucy sat down with Adnams head distiller John McCarthy to hear his thoughts on all kinds of boozy business. Mille then made a cocktail that made us all realise how much we love Maryland turtles before Henry showcased ten of our favourite vermouths and put forward a contender for best image to ever feature on our blog after speaking to Kathy Caton, the founder of Brighton Gin. Elsewhere, Adam had a wonderfully whisky-soaked week, going around the globe in a tasting glass to find out why Peerless whiskey is making waves, how the Dartmoor whisky distillery has unlocked Devon’s potential as a home for great drams and what the confusing but charming new Starward bottling is all about.

Now, onto the Nightcap!

The Nightcap: 26 February

This one bottle alone fetched £1m

Whisky collection sells for almost £6.7m at auction

The record books are going to need some significant revising following a recent auction. You might recall the ‘The Perfect Collection’ was tipped to make headlines and now the nearly 3,900 bottle-strong hoard of whisky has lived up to the hype. The group took a hammer price of £6,675,000, attracting 1,557 distinct bidders from 54 countries. While a bottle of Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60-year-old, sold for £1 million, making it the first single bottle of whisky to be sold at an online-only auction for one million pounds (looks at the camera with Dr Evil face). The collection, which was built up by the late American private collector Richard Gooding, has become the highest-value hoard ever to sell on the secondary market at an auction dedicated to one single collector’s whisky. “This auction was solely dedicated to one collector’s magnificent library of whisky – a man who was dedicated to building the perfect collection. As enthusiasts of whisky ourselves, we knew that this collection deserved its own spotlight to allow us to truly convey the rarity and sheer scale of something so historic,” Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer, said​. “With so many incredible bottles attracting the attention of high-value investors and passionate collectors across the world, the sale is one for the record books.” The whole affair is an absolute gem for those who love eye-watering sums being traded for incredible booze that will almost certainly never be drunk. Which is a shame.

The Nightcap: 26 February

Campbeltown Harbour, back in the good ol’ days

Old Campbeltown photos sought by Glen Scotia distillery

Campbeltown was once the whisky capital of the world, containing over 30 distilleries in the 19th century. There are only three left today. Now that rich history is being celebrated by one of the three, Glen Scotia, in a new initiative to find old photos of the town’s whisky heyday. So if you have any tucked away in your loft, you can email them in to [email protected] or do it the old fashioned way and send them by post to the distillery. More information on the website. The deadline is 31 March this year. Chosen images will be used as part of Glen Scotia Whisky Festival. Iain McAlister, master distiller at Glen Scotia, said: “Whisky was a way of life in our coastal town for over 100 years and over time, all that experience, craft and passion has been poured into Glen Scotia. Now we are looking for photography that will help us uncover what makes Campbeltown the ‘whiskiest place in the world’.” To whet your appetite, Glen Scotia has published some evocative old photographs like the one above. Ah, it really takes you back.

The Nightcap: 26 February

The smoky-sweet high strength dream of a dram will be here soon

Benriach releases Smoke Season

There’s a new small-batch smoky Benriach on the horizon and we’ve just had a little taste. It’s the aptly-named Smoke Season and pays tribute to the old days of Speyside when the region’s whiskies would have been peated. The peat used is from the mainland which comes from trees and heather and has a quite different character to the seaweed-scented Islay variety. According to the press bumf it’s “the most intensely smoked whisky to be released by the distillery” and yet because of its cask maturation, the smoke is beautifully balanced by layers of chocolatey sweet spicy oak. Master blender Dr Rachel Barrie explained: “With intensely peated spirit batch distilled every year, at Benriach we never stop exploring how the fruit and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in a range of eclectic oak casks, either amplifying or transforming the perception of peat.” The barrels include “a high proportion of charred and toasted American Virgin oak casks.” Despite being bottled at a punchy 52.8% ABV, we reckon it’s best without any dilution, all the better to enjoy the rich sweet salted caramel, tobacco and cinnamon notes. RRP is a very reasonable £53, roughly a £1 per percentage of alcohol, and we should be getting some in soon. 

The Nightcap: 26 February

If you’re a fan of white rum this is definitely one to check out

Equiano Rum reveals new white rum 

In a category as diverse and brilliant as rum, it can be difficult to stand out. However, when Equiano, the world’s first African & Caribbean rum, was launched by global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and Foursquare master distiller Richard Seale back in October 2019, it received plenty of headlines. Probably because of the world first thing. And the fact that Burrell and Seale were involved. Also, it’s a blend of molasses rums from Foursquare and Mauritius-based Gray’s Distillery. It really had a lot going for it. As does Equiano Light, the brand’s first line extension. Made from a blend of liquids from the same distilleries, namely lightly aged molasses Foursquare rum and fresh sugar cane juice rum from Gray’s, the spirit is said to have “subtle notes of ripe sugarcane and hints of natural vanilla and citrus” meaning it should be perfect for classic rum cocktails such as The Daiquiri. The brand has also said that Equiano Light was created to offer a “contemporary alternative to traditional pouring rums” and to “enrich the taste profile of an often-underrated spirit” while “silencing any notion that white rums lack the sophistication of their darker counterparts”. Equiano Rum, named after African-born writer, entrepreneur, abolitionist and freedom fighter Olaudah Equiano, will also continue to grant 5% of global company profits and £/$2 from every bottle sold through equianorum.com to ground level freedom and equality projects annually. The brand has also recently teamed up with Anti-Slavery International, the oldest international human rights organisation in the world, to fund their vital work to eliminate all forms of modern slavery across the globe.

The Nightcap: 26 February

Missing the hubbub of nightlife, this Mexican bar has the solution

‘I miss my bar’ recreates those nightlife noises we miss so much

Do you miss your bar? We certainly miss ours which is why we loved an initiative from Monterrey bar, Maverick (sent to me by wife’s father who lives in LA. Shout out to you Mr Lemkin! We have a very informal relationship). That’s Monterrey Mexico, not Monterrey California. It’s a website called ‘I miss my bar’ that lets you recreate the noises of your favourite bar with sliders controlling elements such as rain noise, music, background chatter, traffic and drinks being made. Every week there’s a new playlist put together by staff. All you need to provide are the drinks. Wouldn’t it be great if you could really just turn down that loud group in the corner, though? What are we saying? We are that loud group in the corner. As well as being great fun, it serves a serious purpose, to encourage people to buy vouchers to be redeemed when the bar opens. If you don’t live near Monterrey, then think about helping out your local bar, pub or restaurant, or it might not be there when the lockdown lifts.

The Nightcap: 26 February

This would make one hell of a birthday present, as Jay-Z knows all too well

Sotheby’s to sell Jay-Z’s 1969 D’Ussé Cognac 

We don’t know if any of our dear readers got something special for their 50th birthday, but we would wager that few got a one-of-a-kind bottle of Cognac. But that’s exactly what Shawn Carter, or Jay-Z as you probably know him best, got when he celebrated the big 5-0 in December 2019. D’USSÉ surprised him with the first-ever bottle of its 1969 Anniversaire Limited Edition Grande Champagne Cognac. The bottling was taken from a single barrel-aged in a two-hundred-year-old cellar at Château de Cognac. It’s also housed in a diamond-shaped cut crystal bottle and is adorned with 24 karat gold leaf wrapping on the neck, so it’s suitably swanky. A limited run of the Cognac will be made available for consumer purchase in the spring. Before that, however, a bottle carrying Mr Carter’s engraved signature will be presented for sale at Sotheby’s and is estimated to fetch between $25,000-75,000. That money won’t be lining the legendary hip-hop star’s pocket, however, as the proceeds will go to the Shawn Carter Foundation, which aims to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships further their education at institutions of higher learning. There is no reserve for bids in this auction lot, so Bottle No. 1 will open at just $1 at 2pm GMT on 1 March and the winning bid will be announced at 2pm GMT on 13 March 2021. Fancy your chances?

Jung & Wulff Barbados rum No.3

It’s just like being in Barbados

Sazerac releases Jung & Wulff Caribbean rum range

More exciting rum news! Sazerac, the New Orleans-based drinks company, has just launched a new range of rums and we have to say they look brilliant. Consisting of spirits from Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana, we are particularly taken with the snazzy retro travel posters on the labels. At a time when we can’t travel, they are just the tonic we need. The Trinidad Rum No.1 features steel drum players in front of an ocean liner, Guyana Rum No.2 a tropical jungle scene and the Barbados Rum No. 3 label, a cricket match set against palm trees. The contents are pretty tasty too. All are limited edition blends of pot and column still rums from undisclosed distilleries – though you’ll probably be able to guess the origins of the Trinidad and Guyana bottlings. As with all Sazerac brands, there’s a good bit of history here too as Liam Sparks from importer Hi-Spirits explained: “Jung & Wulff were early importers of rum, distributing to cafés and bars across New Orleans and beyond. Strictly limited, our Jung & Wulff rums celebrate three influential places: Trinidad, Guyana and Barbados. I believe these rums are a true interpretation of each island’s style and brilliantly showcases the different terroirs that are available throughout the Caribbean.” And they’ve just arrived at Master of Malt.

The Nightcap: 26 February

Nine gin-soaked-raisins a day keeps the doctor away… supposedly. (It won’t. But they sure are tasty)

And finally…  105-year-old woman claims gin-soaked raisins helped her overcome Covid

Forget cross country running, meditation and salad, if you want to lead a long life one American lady has the answer, gin-soaked raisins. 105-year-old Lucia DeClerk from New Jersey contracted Covid in her nursing home despite being vaccinated but managed to fight off the virus. The New York Times reported that she had very few symptoms and was back to her best after two weeks. She attributed her robust old age to eating nine gin-soaked raisins a day: “Fill a jar, nine raisins a day after it sits for nine days,” she said. She didn’t specify which brand of gin but it seems that this special diet gave her a raisin to live. 

Sorry.

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Win a VIP trip to Benriach Distillery!

Fancy winning a dream trip to a tremendous Scotch whisky distillery? Of course you do. Good thing we’ve got a new competition for you to enter… There’s no shortage of…

Fancy winning a dream trip to a tremendous Scotch whisky distillery? Of course you do. Good thing we’ve got a new competition for you to enter…

There’s no shortage of delightful distilleries to visit when in Speyside, but one that should definitely be on your bucket list is Benriach. The Brown-Forman owned distillery is intriguingly home to both peated and unpeated whisky and makes use of a diverse cask profile, maturing its malt in barrels such as ex-bourbon, sherry, Jamaican rum and sweet Marsala. If you’re someone who is interested in the way in which whisky is made, this is a great place to witness the process in action. Just ask the folks who won our last VIP trip competition there…

VIP trip to Benriach Distillery

Fancy heading here? Then get entering!

That’s right, we’re back with another competition and we’re offering you another chance to sample the delights of one of Speyside’s finest. Up for grabs is UK travel to the Benriach distillery for two people including a tour and tasting experience as well a visit to the incredible Speyside Cooperage. There’s also going to be time for another Speyside-based activity (which is TBC and time of year dependant), as you’ll be spending two nights in Scotland at either the Craigellachie hotel or the Highlander Inn (subject to availability) with breakfast included. And there’s also a 3-course dinner for two with 2 drinks one evening at the Castle Hotel. It’s basically the break you all deserve after that year, frankly.

So, how do you put yourself in the running? By purchasing a full-size bottle from the Benriach distillery range* (for the nitty-gritty details, see the competition terms below). That’s all. Easy as pie. And even more delicious. Best of all, right now the Benriach The Twelve and Benriach The Smoky Twelve are available for £5 off.  So you get to enter a competition, pick yourself up a bottle of tasty booze and save a few quid in the process. 

VIP trip to Benriach Distillery

The core range was revamped last year and is better than ever

Best of luck to all of you and be sure to keep an eye out on the MoM blog for when we announce the winner…

MoM Benriach Distillery Competition 2021 open to entrants 18 years and over. Entries accepted from 14 January to 23:59 28 January 2021. Winners chosen at random after close of competition. Date and travel restrictions apply. Postal route available. See full T&Cs for details. 

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #2: BenRiach 12 Year Old – Sherry Wood

If you’ve opened window #2 of your Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar you’ll find you got a sherry-tastic Scotch whisky to enjoy… One of the great things about…

If you’ve opened window #2 of your Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar you’ll find you got a sherry-tastic Scotch whisky to enjoy…

One of the great things about your Whisky Advent Calendar is that it lets you tour the world of whisky from the comfort of your own home. Sometimes you’ll visit new exotic locations, other times you’ll get to explore one of Scotland’s many whisky regions, like Speyside, which is home to a huge number of fantastic distilleries. One of those is Benriach Distillery, which is known for creating fruity, malty and sometimes smoky spirit that matures beautifully in a wide variety of casks. And a whisky that demonstrates that exact point is what we’ve got behind window #2. It’s…

BenRiach 12 Year Old – Sherry Wood!

A delightful dram that was matured in a combination of Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, this Benriach bottling has got more sherried deliciousness than you can shake a stick at. Michael Brown, Brown-Forman’s Irish & Malts brand ambassador, joins us to tell more all about today’s dram and the distillery that made it.

Master of Malt: How would you describe the character of Benriach whisky?

Michael Brown: Benriach’s character comes from all over the world thanks to the selection of the eclectic casks that we use. It is very fruit-forward with layers of luscious orchard fruit but also with malt sweetened and spiced oak. Our master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie often says that the Benriach The Original Ten for instance is “Speyside in a glass” and the beautiful creaminess you taste in it makes her think of a “Speyside Patisserie”. We also have Smoky Single Malts in Benriach’s range which represent a smooth introduction to sweet smoke. Benriach brings a true world of flavour and there is a Benrich for everyone’s taste!

MoM: What sets Benriach apart in your view?

MB: At Benriach distillery, we have an unconventional whisky-making heritage producing three styles of whisky: classic unpeated, Highland peated and triple-distilled. Along with our varied cask profiles, it has enabled our whisky makers since 1898 to explore the full flavour possibilities of single malt, creating some of the richest, most multi-layered whiskies in Speyside. This long-standing tradition continues today under the guidance of our Master Blender. Dr Rachel Barrie who has over a quarter of a century’s experience and a love of creative whisky which means that Benriach is the perfect place to practise her art!

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #2: BenRiach 12 Year Old - Sherry Wood

Dr Rachel Barrie is one of the most renowned master blenders in the whisky world.

MoM: This year the brand’s core range was refreshed and you adopted a new look. How has it been received?

MB: We have been thrilled to see the very positive feedback from consumers we met in recent virtual shows and live streamings as well as the warm welcome from our trade partners and media. Benriach has huge potential with endless flavour possibilities to still unleash and we cannot wait to release very soon new expressions to complete the core range already available. So more to come, keep your eyes peeled!

MoM: What trends or developments do you think we’ll see in the world of whisky in 2021?

MB: Trends are something I tend to steer away from as they come and go and at Benriach we always make our choices based on what casks work with our style of new make spirit. However, what I see happening in the Scotch whisky world as a whole, is a move towards simplifying language and information and talking about whisky in terms of flavours that are more familiar to people, rather than more specific whisky language. For instance, at Benriach, we bring it back to flavour references of a patisserie, from fruit jams and creme patisserie to custards and rich buttery pastries. For me these flavour references allow people to be transported to a time in their life where they remember jam roly-poly and custard or another pudding that really sticks in your mind.

MoM: What will you be drinking this Christmas?

MB: You really can’t go wrong with a lovely neat whisky on a cold winter’s night and this year for me, I will be reaching for one of my favourites in the new Benriach range, Benriach The Smoky Twelve. It really takes me to the smells of Christmas desserts being prepared, smoked vanilla and orange, rich brown sugar and chocolate notes and a whisky that is such a Christmas treat, the finish just keeps delivering waves of flavour after the first sip. But for a Christmas Highball to serve to family, I will reach for a few easily got ingredients to make an Allspice Highball using Benriach 10 Year Old and spicy ginger beer at its most simple or follow the recipe below and make them as good as your bartender: Combine 50ml of Benraich 10 Year Old, 5ml of Bitter Truth Pimento Dram Liqueur, 5ml of lemon juice, 5ml of sugar syrup and top it with 140ml of ginger beer.

Whisky Advent 2020 Day #2: BenRiach 12 Year Old - Sherry Wood

Tasting note from the Chaps at Master of Malt:

Nose: Cooked apple drizzled in crème de cassis, brown sugar and zesty orange.

Palate: Fig, blackcurrant jam, apricot, slowly building Christmas spice and continued vanilla.

Finish: Soft ginger root spiciness.

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Check out these awesome autumn sippers!

Autumn… it’s the time of year when you start to crave delicious, hearty, comforting drinks. Luckily, we’ve got a huge range and we’ve picked some of our favourites. The temperature…

Autumn… it’s the time of year when you start to crave delicious, hearty, comforting drinks. Luckily, we’ve got a huge range and we’ve picked some of our favourites.

The temperature is dropping, the days are becoming shorter and suddenly pumpkins are popping up all over the place like arcade moles ready to be whacked. You know what that means. Autumn has arrived. We’re optimists here at MoM Towers, so we like to celebrate the change in seasons by enjoying a dram or two of the heartiest and tastiest spirits around. We don’t want you to miss out on all the fun though, so we’ve whipped up a selection of drinks just right for cosying up with on cooler days.

 autumn sippers    

Benriach The Smoky Twelve

When Benriach released a new core range this year we were very excited, and rightly so. One of the highlights is this brilliantly peaty 12-year-old whisky created by Dr Rachel Barrie, who matured this Scotch in a combination of bourbon, sherry and Marsala wine casks. Perfect for those chilly evenings.

What does it taste like?

Flamed orange peel, chocolate brownies fresh from the oven, raisins, walnuts, peppercorn, hickory, woody smoke and a hint of clove.

autumn sippers

6 O’Clock Damson Gin

A dark and delicious flavoured gin from the wonderful folks at 6 O’Clock Gin, this beauty was crafted in the traditional way; in small batches, using hand-picked British damsons and a moderate amount of sugar. Lovely stuff, this.

What does it taste like?

Fruity, aromatic and drying. Fragrant spices integrate perfectly with the damsons rightly taking the lead.

autumn sippers

Redbreast 12 Year Old

One of the finest single pot still Irish whiskies ever created, what’s not love about Redbreast 12 Year Old? The rich and rewarding dram was made from malted and unmalted barley, and then matured in a combination of American oak bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts. We can’t get enough of it.

What does it taste like?

Nutty, rich and oily, with notes of dried peels, ginger, linseed, cut fruits, marzipan and a hint of sherry. 

autumn sippers

The Gin Kitchen Ginger Cat Gin

There aren’t many gins that count tonka beans as a signature botanical, but this delightful gin makes us wonder if that’s something on an oversight. This aromatic expression also features cinnamon, orange zest and, of course, ginger as ingredients and comes presented in a rather quaint ceramic bottle with a lovely little cat on it. Paired with tonic or Cointreau and ginger beer if you’re feeling more adventurous.

What does it taste like?

Peppery juniper leads into spicy ginger, with earthy vanilla notes, aromatic cinnamon and a citrus finish.

autumn sippers

Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof Whiskey

Rye whiskey was a giant of the American drinks industry that was devastated by Prohibition, but thankfully things are changing and Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse is one of the leading brands of this welcome rye renaissance. Possessing plenty of that classic spicy, chewy and full-bodied Pennsylvanian rye style, Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof Whiskey is a bartender’s favourite for good reason.

What does it taste like?

Dried fruits, soft spices, cocoa, butterscotch, marmalade, cinnamon and caramel.

autumn sippers

Project #173 Pineapple Rum

For those who immediately think of warming, spicy and fruity rums when someone mentions autumn, then we recommend this terrific Pineapple Rum here from Project #173. Handsomely presented in a bottle adorned with 23 karat gold leaf, you can enjoy this cracking flavour combo neat or in a Rum Old Fashioned, for our money.

What does it taste like?

Citrus, kiwi and the unmistakable funkiness of pineapple, with underlying cinnamon. allspice. toasted brown sugar, upside-down cake and a touch of mint.

autumn sippers

Talisker 18 Year Old

There are few distilleries that can boast a range as good as Talisker and the 18 Year Old bottling is arguably its standout expression. Matured for nearly two decades in casks which previously held bourbon and sherry, this sweet and smoky malt has picked up multiple awards and won the plaudits of critics and fans alike.

What does it taste like?

Thick, rich and full-bodied with notes of spicy, peppery oak, espresso beans, wood smoke, allspice and there is a certain zesty character lurking somewhere.

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A world of flavour: Behind Benriach’s new look

Speyside Scotch whisky distillery Benriach has undergone something of a makeover, with a refreshed core range and revamped presentation. We chat to Dr. Rachel Barrie, Benriach master blender, to get…

Speyside Scotch whisky distillery Benriach has undergone something of a makeover, with a refreshed core range and revamped presentation. We chat to Dr. Rachel Barrie, Benriach master blender, to get the inside scoop.

Paid partnership

Benriach is a distillery with a storied history. It dates back to 1898 when it was founded towards the north of Speyside by a chap called John Duff. Over the following decades, and like many distilleries, it faced periods of closure and changed hands multiple times. Since 2016, Benriach has been part of the Brown-Forman’s family, marking the Jack Daniel’s- and Woodford Reserve-maker’s first foray into the world of Scotch. At the time, the deal made the whisky headlines. But now, with its new look, a refocusing on flavour, and a compelling narrative around innovative cask combinations, Benriach is making waves all on its own.

Dr. Rachel Barrie has developed the range

“I’ve been with the company three-and-a-half years now, and I’ve really got to know all of the whiskies,” said Dr. Rachel Barrie, Benriach’s master blender. We’re speaking on the day of the relaunch. The line-up has been unveiled to the world, and drinks social media is in a chatter about the news. And it’s been a while in the works. Even within six months of taking on whisky development at Benriach, Dr. Barrie said she was thinking ‘what’s next?’.

“I had thousands of casks,” she said, outlining the process. “I’ve described it like discovering all these paint pots; it’s like painting with flavour.”

She mentioned she’d always admired Benriach from afar. “I’ve always loved the balance of the fruit and the malt,” and this balance is at the heart of the new core range. 

So what have we got in the line-up? Dr. Barrie took it back to Benriach’s Speyside home (Did you know it gets 40 more days of sunshine a year than anywhere else in Scotland?” She quipped.). A key source of inspiration was the 1994 Benriach 10 Year Old expression, the first bottling that really cemented the distillery as a brand in its own right. It’s balance, body and mouthfeel underpin the philosophy behind each new expression.

All about the cask: the new core range lines up

At the heart of it all, there’s The Original Ten, The Smoky Ten, The Original Twelve, and The Smoky Twelve, all bottled at natural colour. Two fundamentals thread through the quartet: production (essentially peated versus unpeated), and the cask make-up. These are all a blend of three different cask maturations. Move higher up the range to The Twenty One, The Twenty Five and The Thirty, and you’ll find four different cask types. The entire line-up was crafted to offer accessibility to whisky newcomers, and established enthusiasts alike. And the clear positioning does just that.  

When it comes to the malt specification itself, it’s useful to look at the calendar. Each September is devoted to ‘smoke season’, where malt processed to 55ppm using local Highland peat prior to distillation tracks its way through the distillery. Then malting season (yes, Benriach has its own malting floor), takes place each spring. There will be dedicated Smoke Season and Malting Season limited editions to come in due course, too. 

“My job was to create this perfect world of flavour, a journey of taste, many different layers all perfectly integrated,” Dr Barrie continues. “There’s a rainbow of flavour as the spirit comes off the still, which you can then amplify with casks.” 

And why such an overt focus on smoke? “It’s such a sweet smoke with Benriach, it opens the door to new consumers,” she explained. “Just saying ‘peated’ is too simple, it’s a different character.” 

The core quartet

In the tasting glass first is The Original Ten. “It’s like sunshine on Speyside,” Dr. Barrie described it. “A fruit orchard, ripening peaches, a patisserie.” Interestingly, while it’s barely perceptible, there is still a wisp of that Benriach smoke running through. “It’s less than 5ppm,” she said, adding that it adds more of a depth, a textural quality, rather than contributing flavour as such. Going into the Original Ten is liquid from bourbon barrels and sherry casks, plus virgin oak. “It’s got layers of perfect balance,” she continued. 

Benriach is embracing its smokier side

Next up was The Smoky Ten with an intriguing cask mix indeed: bourbon barrels, toasted virgin oak, and Jamaican rum casks. She confirmed the latter previously held high-ester, pot still liquid. “It amplifies the esterification that happens with the maturation,” she got technical for a moment. “It brings out the vanilla, coconut, lactones, the sweetness.” The result? “Exotic fruits charred on a barbeque.” Delicious!

The Twelve is a “new to world” expression, Dr. Barrie continued. “Everything changes with maturation. You’re going to have more oxidation, and therefore more of those top notes.” She reckoned the esterification reaches a “sweet spot” at this age for Benriach. Plus the addition of Port pipes to the bourbon and sherry make-up “lifts and lengthens”, with a “dark chocolate note on the end”.   

Rounding off the four at the heart of the range is The Smoky Twelve. “This is unexpected in its cask combination,” Dr. Barrie said, referencing the bourbon, sherry and sweet Marsala cask recipe. “It’s a collision of the rugged side of Benriach with the sweet side,” she added. “Plus, I love Italian food, I love Sicily. You can see how I was drawn to this.”

An experimental approach

It’s true that there are some unusual cask combinations across the four expressions we explored. How does that come about, and will there be more experimentation to come?

“There’s like a ‘eureka!’ moment with all of the whiskies,” she detailed. “It’s a constant quest. You have all the casks, you blend, you go back and think, ‘imagine…’. Eventually to get to the point where you’re, 80%, 90% there, and then you raise the bar even further.”

Announced alongside the new range was an intention to release esoteric limited editions in the future. Are there any experiments or cask types she’d like to play with yet but hasn’t?

“Oh, there’s so much experimentation,” she said, referencing what’s going on in American whiskey with mashbills and developments within wine. “And within our group [Brown-Forman], there are so many different types of spirit… Tequila with Herradura. Now, that would be interesting. Never say never!”

The range takes on the character of the distillery and the surrounding Speyside region

Other ongoing projects include working with the R&D team at Brown-Forman’s Louisville HQ to investigate the impact of different types of oak on flavour, another area of interest. It makes the whisky lover incredibly excited to see what might come next from Benriach as part of this new programme. 

“There’s plenty to try, and then different combinations to try!” There’s an energy to her statement that makes you long for a sneak peek around her blending lab, just to see what’s there. There’s lots to taste in the new range, and there’s certainly deliciousness to come. Dr. Barrie best sums it up: “There’s an everlasting world of flavour.” 

Benriach’s new-look line-up

The Original Ten, 43% ABV

Bourbon, sherry and virgin oak casks with a trace smoke level for orchard fruit, honeyed malt and marmalade on toast notes. 

The Smoky Ten, 46% ABV

Bourbon barrels, virgin oak and Jamaican rum casks combine for smoky sweetness with barbecued fruit notes. 

The Twelve, 46% ABV

Sherry rich maturation and layers of dark berry fruit encapture the flavours of Benriach in the autumn.

The Smoky Twelve, 46% ABV

Made with an unusual combination of bourbon, sherry and sweet Marsala casks for a rich smoky sweetness with dark chocolate, almond and charred orange notes. 

Plus coming soon, three older bottlings which we were given a sneak preview of:

The Twenty One, 46%

Bourbon, sherry, virgin oak and red wine cask liquids with elegant smoke. Lashings of orchard fruit, pinewood and honey smoke. 

The Twenty Five, 46% ABV

Sherry, bourbon, virgin oak and Madeira wine casks combine for an intensely rich mouthfeel with baked fruit, cinnamon spice and caramelised smoke. 

The Thirty, 46% ABV

The oldest peated Speyside ever bottled. Sherry, bourbon, virgin oak and Port casks result in chocolate raisin, smoked walnut and cinnamon cocoa notes. 

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Take a VR tour of BenRiach Distillery with MoM!

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery. Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy…

See how BenRiach makes its delicious Speyside whisky thanks to this virtual reality tour of the distillery.

Just because you’re self-isolating or on lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good distillery tour. How is this possible? Thanks to the power of VR, of course. In this series we’re going to take you around some of the finest distilleries across England, Wales and Scotland from the comfort of your own home. This week we take a look around a distillery that was closed for over 60 years but thankfully survived. Enjoy!

If you know a little of the history of BenRiach, then you’ll know we’re lucky that it still exists. Because of the Pattison crash  which wrecked the Scotch whisky industry, it was mothballed just two years after being built by John Duff in 1898 (though the floor malting remained operational).  It remained closed for over six decades. Most distilleries closed for that long don’t survive. Thankfully, in 1965 Glenlivet Distillers Ltd reopened and subsequently rebuilt the distillery. By 1972 it even began the production of peated malt. Seagrams then purchased the distillery in 1978 and added two more stills and in 1994 released BenRiach as a single malt brand in its own right. BenRiach then encountered another turbulent period, beginning with the closure of its floor maltings in 1999 after 101 years of uninterrupted operation. In 2001, Pernod Ricard took over BenRiach, Allt A’Bhainne, Braeval and Caperdonich but all four distilleries were subsequently mothballed a year later. Just when it seemed poor BenRiach couldn’t catch a break, an independent consortium led by Billy Walker acquired the distillery in 2004. They launched a new range, restored the malting floor in 2012 and sold the distillery to Brown-Forman in 2016. BenRiach is now in rude health and makes plenty of excellent sweet, nutty and fruity whisky to enjoy. 

VR tour of BenRiach Distillery

One of the best core expressions in the business, BenRiach 10 Year Old is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the distillery. But we’re not recommending you indulge yourself with a bottle of BenRiach 10 Year Old. We’re going one better. We suggest the BenRiach 10 Year Old Gift Pack with 2x Glasses, because it’s a hell of a steal and you can never have enough branded tasting glasses.

BenRiach 10 Year Old tasting note:

Nose: Citrus-forward, with gingerbread and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Fried banana, brown sugar, powerful barley notes driving it all along.

Finish: Lasting hints of peppery malt and vanilla custard

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Whisky Advent 2019 Day #11: BenRiach 10 Year Old

The 11th door of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar holds something exceptionally tasty from a certain Speyside distillery which is named for the Gaelic for ‘speckled mountain’…  Well,…

The 11th door of Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar holds something exceptionally tasty from a certain Speyside distillery which is named for the Gaelic for ‘speckled mountain’… 

Well, well, it’s the 11th day of Advent. We’re not half way just yet, but gosh darn it’s not far off either! You’ll know that though of course, because you can see how many doors you’ve opened on your Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar, and it’s got a treat for you on this special day.

We all know you’re here for the whisky, so we’ll get down to it.

Today’s dram is… BenRiach 10 Year Old!

This particular expression was first launched in April 2015, and is the flagship expression from the Speyside distillery after it changed hands in 2004 from Pernod Ricard to Billy Walker (it was subsequently bought by Brown-Forman in 2016). So, this was the first core range expression to be predominantly crafted from whiskies distilled at BenRiach since Walker took over. And it’s still going strong! 

The Speysider is drawn from both bourbon and sherry casks after a decade of ageing, so you have all those sweeter, creamy notes from the bourbon cask sitting wonderfully alongside the spicier notes from the sherry cask. 

Benriach 10 year old

It’s the wonderful Dr Rachel Barrie, everyone!

We got to chat to the awesome master blender Dr Rachel Barrie, to talk us through all things BenRiach! It’s been quite the year for the Dr Barrie, as among many other achievements, after 27 years in the industry she was inducted as a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’

Master of Malt: Wow, here we have the flagship expression from BenRiach! Can you talk us through what we should be expecting flavour-wise?

Dr Rachel Barrie: Benriach 10 Year Old glides on the palate like a delicious patisserie, with layers of succulent orchard fruit on a base of pastry-like malt and vanilla cream, topped with toasted almond and a touch of spice. 

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink BenRiach 10 Year Old?

RB: I enjoy BenRiach 10 Year Old neat or with a splash of water for the perfect multi-layered balance of fruit, malt and oak. 

Benriach 10 year old

Behold, Benriach 10 Year Old.

MoM: What’s been a BenRiach highlight of 2019?

RB: In 2019, the launch of the latest BenRiach Cask bottling Batch was a highlight, after selecting 24 casks from Warehouse 13, including Benriach unpeated and peated matured in oak casks previously filled with Tokaji wine, oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximénez, Port, claret, Madeira, Sauternes, virgin oak, South African red wine, Jamaican rum, Rioja, Sicilian Marsala, and bourbon! The drinker now has the chance to select from the same eclectic collection of casks I have the pleasure of nosing every day.

MoM: What’s your favourite Christmas cocktail?

RB: A smooth, spiced fruit cocktail with cloudy apple juice, ginger beer, cinnamon and cloves, and a slice of red apple perched on glass, to crunch between sips. The perfect balance of sweet and dry, warm and spicy yet refreshingly smooth and fruity.

MoM: What can we expect from BenRiach in 2020?

RB: BenRiach will really come alive in 2020 with many exciting developments when it comes to our pursuit of flavour and pushing the creative boundaries of whisky-making in our three styles – classic, peated and triple-distilled.

Tasting note:

Nose: Citrus-forward, with gingerbread and cinnamon in support.

Palate: Fried banana, brown sugar, powerful barley notes driving it all along.

Finish: Lasting hints of peppery malt and vanilla custard.

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