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.

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