Review: Benriach “The Smoky Ten” & “The Smoky Twelve”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

The second entry in our Benriach Week series gets a bit smoky. The distillery produces both an unpeated and peated malt. Their core range consists of both unpeated and peated 10- and 12-year-old expressions. It’s a smart idea as it allows a much larger audience to enjoy their whisky and become familiar with the distillery’s flavor profile regardless of whether they enjoy peated whisky or not.

The Smoky Ten

Bottled at 46% abv, Benriach “The Smoky Ten” is comprised of peated whiskies aged at least 10 years in bourbon, rum, and virgin oak casks. A triple cask maturation for added flavor… and to keep things interesting. The nose features hints of toffee, earthy peat, a light touch of ripe orchard fruits, and some oak spice. Flavor-wise, an underlying sweet smokiness highlights the fruity notes so tied to the distillery’s flavor profile. A added touch of spice and orange blossom honey round out the palate. The finish is soft in nature and continues to carry over that sweet and slightly smoky characteristic.

There’s lots to enjoy with this 10-year-old whisky. The use of peated malt adds so much character compared to its unpeated brethren, which were nice enough to begin with. For the $59.99 asking price, Benriach “The Smoky Ten” comes recommended.

Photo courtesy of Benriach

The Smoky Twelve

Benriach’s “The Smoky Twelve” also sees a triple cask maturation. This time, the whisky is matured in bourbon, sherry, and Marsala casks. It’s pretty evident on the nose this is a different beast altogether. On the nose, the peat is toned down a bit, leaving room for dark fruits to shine. Hints of spice, burnt orange peel, and tobacco leaf round out the nose. Taste-wise, an initial blast of fruity chewing gum quickly develops into more complex baked orchard fruit. Nutty toffee makes an appearance soon afterwards, as a soft bed of smoky acts as a foundation. A little spice brings us to the medium-long finish. There’s some lingering fruit sweetness, acidity, spice, and smoke. I’d call that complex.

“The Smoky Twelve” is also bottled at 46% abv, but drinks a bit lower than that. It’s a very enjoyable yet complex malt that delivers big on smoke-tinged fruit notes. My favorite of the core range. Highly recommended! $64.99

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

Review: Benriach “The Original Ten” & “The Twelve”

Photo courtesy of Benriach

It’s been a while since I’ve done a themed week here on the blog, so let’s bring it back. Our Benriach Week kicks off with two of their non-peated core expressions – The Original Ten and The Twelve. Both are bottled at 43% abv and 46% abv respectively, and have matured in three different types of casks. The Original Ten features whiskies matured in bourbon, sherry, and virgin oak casks, while The Twelve sees sherry, bourbon, and port casks.

The Original Ten

Aged at least 10 years, Benriach “The Original Ten” is a classic Speyside malt on the nose, full of lucious orchard fruit, vanilla, and sweet malt. Taste-wise, layers of honey and vanilla kick things off, followed by those nice orchard fruits. A little cinnamon spice creeps up on the back of the palate. The finish is short and carries over that fruit sweetness and spice.

Classic and unassuming, Benriach “The Original Ten” is a great introduction to the distillery’s orchard fruit-forward style. It’s also a fine introductory Scotch whisky for those bourbon drinkers looking to cross over. $53.99.

Photo courtesy of Benriach

The Twelve

With “The Twelve,” we’re getting into a richer, deeper flavor profile compared to its 10-year-old sibling. Two years and the addition of port casks really give this whisky some character. The nose is more concentrated and features hints of baked orchard fruits, nutmeg, maple, and oak spice. The palate showcases more fruit character, but it’s not necessarily sweeter. Deeper flavors of vanilla bean, oak, and a touch of nuttiness help round out the palate. The finish is medium in length, but big in flavor. It’s very much a baked apple dessert.

The slightly higher abv and two additional years of maturation advance Benriach “The Twelve” by several levels. More concentrated fruit notes and a bit more complexity certainly makes you want to keep the bottle handy for refills. The best part – this is only $6 more than the 10-year-old, sitting at a suggested retail price of $59.99. Highly recommended.

Next up in our series is the peated versions of these two expressions. You won’t want to miss that!

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

Review: Michter’s 10-Year-Old Rye (2021)

There are so many great rye whiskeys on the market, especially since that segment blew up a few years ago. Few of those ryes are truly extraordinary. Michter’s 10-year-old rye whiskey consistently falls in the latter category. Michter’s doesn’t release this every year. Instead, it’s released when the distillery believes the whiskey to be just right. Earlier this year, Michter’s released their fantastic 10-year-old rye.

I believe that this Michter’s 10 Year Rye release showcases how terrific American rye whiskey can be. Twenty years ago it was really challenging to sell rye whiskey.

Joseph J. Magliocco, Michter’s President

Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson said the distillery is still struggling to meet the high demand of the market. To help combat the issue, the distillery has expanded their Springfield Farm and Operations from 145 acres to 205, allowing for the production of more estate-grown grain for distillation.

Michter’s 10-year-old rye whiskey is a single barrel product. Expect slight flavor variations from barrel to barrel.

Bottled at 46.4% abv, Michter’s 10-year-old rye continues with their tradition of producing rich, complex whiskies. At a decade old, this rye hits a sweet spot for me – not too old, not too young or “green”… a perfect balance between grain and barrel influence. The nose features hints of toasted rye grain, dark brown sugar, anise, and wood spice. The mouthfeel is pure velvet on the palate. A sweet and spicy rush of brown sugar, caramel, and cinnamon kicks things off. Sandlewood and a touch of vanilla bean soon develop. The medium finish is warming, showcasing a nice sweet oak.

Michter’s 10-year-old rye is always impressive, especially at its $170 price point. The difficulty is finding a bottle ‘in the wild.’ These 10-year-old expressions (bourbon and rye) have been hard to come by for years now. Recent expansion in production should help alleviate that, but we’re still a while away from reaping those benefits. Until then, if you see a bottle, don’t hesitate to pick it up. You won’t regret it.

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