Review: Benriach “The Thirty”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

Sitting atop Benriach’s core range is “The Thirty.” This crown jewel of a whisky is crafted from the distillery’s old peated whisky stock by their master blender Rachel Barrie. Bottled at 46% abv, “The Thirty” features a four-cask maturation: bourbon barrels, sherry casks, virgin oak casks, and port casks from Douro Valley. After three decades, the peaty character of the whisky mellows down into something elegant.

The nose features a lovely subdued smoke, so it’s nowhere near as prominent as say Benriach “The Smoky Ten.” Cocoa, fig, plum, and burnt orange peel round out this rich smelling whisky. Taste-wise, dark fruit and raisin form the foundation here, with oak spice and dark chocolate hitting the mid-palate. After three decades of maturation, a little leather pops up on the back of the palate. The finish is long, continuing with the dark fruit and elegant smoke profile.

Benriach “The Thirty” is quite the special pour. As old as the whisky is, there’s still a vibrancy that flows throughout. The depth of flavor is quite impressive, as is the decision to use port casks in the construction of this release. Highly recommended. $739.99

Thanks to Benriach for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Benriach “The Twenty One” & “The Twenty Five”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

Now we’re getting into some serious whisky. Benriach’s ultra premium side of their core range includes a 21-, 25-, and 30-year old expression. Today, we’re focusing on the first two. Both expressions are bottled at 46% abv, which is a great proof to showcase the flavors and aromas better and yet still be very easily drinkable without adding water. Let’s jump in…

The Twenty One

This lovely beast sees a four-cask maturation: bourbon, sherry, virgin oak, and Bourdeaux red wine casks. Master Blender Rachel Barrie uses both Benriach’s unpeated and peated whisky to compose this orchestra of flavor. Those red wine casks really mingle well with Benriach’s style. The nose features hints of plum, oak spice, ripe orchard fruit, and smoked honey. The palate is reminiscent of fruit being grilled over a wood fire. Honey adds a little sweetness and richness, and a nice tobacco note leads into a long, hearty finish.

The combination of cask types, especially the addition of Bourdeaux red wine casks, really amp up the distillery’s signature fruity profile. This is a must-buy whisky at $199.99. Benriach has managed to craft an elegant, fruit-forward peated whisky that remains superbly balance and immensely delicious.

Photo courtesy of Benriach

The Twenty Five

Benriach “The Twenty Five” (and kudos for the direct, easy-to-remember names here) also utilizes a four cask maturation with sherry casks, bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, and Madeira Island wine casks. The flavor profile here deepens a bit when compared to the 21-year-old expression. The nose features hints of nutty toffee, cocoa, baked orchard fruit, and some oak spice. Taste-wise, a wave of smoky caramel combines with baked apricot, baking spice, and toasted oak to produce a whisky I can best describe as f*cking delicious. A slight earthiness (tobacco leaf) shows up in the mid-palate to add even more to the cacophony of flavors. The finish is soft, but lingers for a while.

I’d call this a richer, darker, and nuttier version of Benriach. It drinks lower than its 46% abv proof, and each sip tempts you to keep the bottle nearby. It’s a really, really great whisky. Price-wise, at $349.99 it’s quite a jump compared to the 21-year-old’s bargain price. That said, tell me where else you’ll find a 25-year-old single malt for $350?

Review: Benriach “Malting Season” & “Smoke Season”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

Benriach recently released two limited edition whiskies that are inspired by traditional whisky-making methods. “Malting Season” is produced using only barley malted at the distillery, where “Smoke Season” is a nod to the distillery producing highly peated whisky.

They had my attention at the word, “Benriach.” Read on…

Malting Season

Bottled at 48.7% abv, Benriach “Malting Season” is made with Concerto barley, chosen specifically by Master Blender Rachel Barrie. The distillery is one of seven still continuing the practice of on-site floor malting. In terms of cask type, “Malting Season” is double cask-matured – Bourbon and Virgin Oak casks. That should really allow the grain to shine through.

On the nose, honey and grass meet sweet toasted barley bread and a slight floral note. There’s a youthfulness in this NAS whisky that focuses attention on the grain. It’s not rough-around-the-edges. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sweet barley is the first note that hits the palate, with orchard fruit, lemon peel, and honey developing soon afterwards. Make no mistake, barley is in charge here. The mouthfeel is a touch oily and coating. Some spice adds a little edge heading into the finish, which is warming and long.

I love that this whisky is focused more on the grain instead of the cask choice. That said, the casks used here totally highlight that lovely barley. Hands down, it’s a really solid whisky. $148.99

Photo courtesy of Benriach

Smoke Season

Benriach’s “Smoke Season”… oh man, do I even have to bother explaining? Well this IS a whiskey blog, so… the distillery utilizes a traditional season production technique where it runs peated spirit through their stills – resulting in a very peated whisky. It’s bottled at 52.8% abv and also sees double cask maturation in bourbon and virgin oak casks.

On the nose, there is loads of that smoked fruit awesomeness I just can’t get enough of. It’s joined with a lovely vanilla and oak spice. Taste-wise, that Benriach orchard fruit provides some sweetness along with a bit of caramel. The woody smoke sits in the background, occasionally chiming in. It’s definitely not subtle. The finish sees a slight concentration of oak spice and baked apple.

Lovely stuff. Just lovely. Recommended. $71.99

Thanks to Benriach for the samples. All thoughts and opinions are my own.