Founded in 1898 by John Duff, the original Benriach was short-lived; following monetary difficulties the distillery was sold to the Longmorn Distilleries Company who closed it at the turn of the twentieth century. Benriach, named for the Gaelic for â€˜speckled mountainâ€™, was one of the few distilleries with its own floor maltings, following closure they remained in use, supplying neighbouring Longmorn.
The upturn in whiskyâ€™s fortunes in the 1960s saw Benriach run from 1965 onwards under new owners The Glenlivet Distillers, before Seagrams purchased the distillery in 1978. In 1985 two extra stills were added bringing the total to four. The floor maltings were in use again and remained so continuously until 1999. When Pernod Ricard took over Seagramâ€™s whisky division in 2001 Benriach was mothballed, but in April of 2004, Benriach was sold, along with several thousand casks, for Â£5.4million to the South African company, Infra Trading, combining their efforts with Burn Stewart director Billy Walker. They reopened the distillery the following year and soon established the Benriach Distilling Co.
In 2008, the Benriach Distilling Co acquired a second distillery from Chivas Brothers in the shape of GlenDronach, before adding Glenglassaugh Distillery to its portfolio in 2013. Brown-Forman, the Louisville, Kentucky-based producer of Jack Daniel's, in-turn bought the Benriach Distilling Co in 2016 for Â£281 million.
Today, Benriach is back in full production and has become a firm favourite for many Scotch whisky fans since it was reinvigorated under Walker and co. It has cemented a reputation as an unconventional whisky distiller with some of the most experimental casks in Speyside. Benriach distils three malt whisky styles - unpeated, peated and triple distilled - and is one of the two remaining Speyside distilleries to use malted barley from its own on-site floor maltings, which were reopened in 2013.
The Smoky Ten from Benriach's core range launched in 2020 shows off the distillery's skill at working with peated malt. Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie and her team created this expression using whisky matured in bourbon barrels, toasted virgin oak casks and Jamaican rum casks, building a delicious flavour profile of ripe fruit and creamy spices to support the peaty wafts at its core.
Nose: Toasted coconut, aromatic smoke and a touch of greengage.
Palate: Cinnamon, ginger and dry smoke, shortly followed by maple syrup and peach.
Finish: Waves of fresh vanilla, salted butter and toasted barley.