Day 4 of KWM Whisky Advent 2016, and I spy a BenRiach 12 Year Sherry Matured!
Today’s whisky has been a store favourite for years! This sherry matured 12 year old BenRiach is produced in the classic sherry cask style of some other notable whiskies like Macallan, Glenfarclas, Glengoyne, Glendronach and Aberlour. The whisky is matured in a mix of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks and bottled at 46%. But there is something curious about this whisky, the rumours are that it may be as much as 5 years older than advertised. While the laws prohibit advertising an age greater than the youngest whisky in the bottle, there is nothing preventing a distillery from putting a younger age on it. This curiosity is due to a closure of the distillery around the year 2000. As there was no production between 2000 and 2004, the whisky must be closer to 17-18 years. A combination of this fact and the style, has lead us to suggest this is the one of the best value whisky in the shop!
BenRiach has become an iconic and trend setting distillery over the last 12 years. In 2004 a group of South African investors and Scotch whisky industry veteran Billy Walker bought the distillery and its stocks from Pernod Ricard. Billy knew the distillery had potential, and that there was an opportunity to create a single malt brand from scratch. There had previously been a lackluster 10 Year old BenRiach on the market, but the distillery was largely unknown. What Billy and his team found when they opened their warehouses exceeded their expectations. BenRiach had produced both peated and unpeated whiskies and had even done some experimentation with triple distillation. The possibilities for the new brand were truly unlimited.
BenRiach is an interesting distillery from a historical perspective. The distillery was founded in 1898 just south of the City of Elgin, to capitalize on the first major boom in Scotch whisky production. It would not remain open long, the distillery along with a huge proportion of the industry was devastated in 1900 by the “Pattison whisky crash”. Many of the distilleries that closed never reopened. BenRiach survived to reopen in 1965 at that start of the next whisky boom because its warehouses and malting floor were kept in use by its adjoining sister distillery Longmorn. At various times in the 20th Century BenRiach was referred to as Longmorn No.2. The fact is, the distillery has been closed more years than it has been in production.
BenRiach’s reputation today due to a combination of legacy and innovation. The whisky produced by the distillery since the 1960s has been of excellent quality. Add to this the skillful oak management and blending done by Billy Walker and his team and you have a recipe for success. The distillery and its parent company, BenRiach Distillery Co., have even newer owners now, having been acquired by Brown Forman. The purchase included BenRiach, but also the Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. Brown Forman has pledged to leave the Scottish management team at BenRiach in place, which is very encouraging, and I hope that the purchase will not see major changes to the brand or its representation in Canada. In just 12 years BenRiach has grown from a virtual unknown, to one of the most popular and consistently good whiskies on the market. I sincerely hope we will be able to continue to working with the brand in the future!
BenRiach 12 Year Sherry Wood Matured – 46% - Matured in Oloroso & PX Sherry – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Christmas cake, plum pudding, Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars and leather driving gloves; treacle sauce on stick toffee pudding, Fruit Source bars and espresso. Palate: big, rich and very fruity; more Christmas cake, plum pudding and leather; drier and nuttier than the nose let on, it is earthy with dark spices, unsweetened bakers chocolate and Dominican cigar tobacco; fennel seed, clove and salty Dutch licorice. Finish: long, drying and coating; the leather, bitter chocolate and spices are ruling the roost! Comment: I have to acknowledge, that my palate in not at its finest today, I was not kind to it last night… in fairness I will need to give this another try tomorrow!” - $80
Stay tuned tomorrow, for KWM Whisky Advent Day 5!