When one of our W Club members got the opportunity to visit one of the most innovative distilleries in Scotland he jumped at the chance. Des was the lucky member who was chosen at random to experience The BenRiach distillery at its very best and it was to prove an experience worth its weight in liquid Gold. Next to him (pictured above) was BenRiach brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan accompanied by whisky music expert Scott Dunn on the right.
A VIP all access tour began at 10am and although a bit early for some, BenRiach brand ambassador Stewart Buchanan reminded us that tasting whisky first thing in the morning has its benefits with the palate often fresh as a daisy with having less of a chance to be influenced by other factors. Interesting – I must put this suggestion to my bosses as a new 10am procedure…
Back to BenRiach and I have to say that its location is absolutely stunning, with beautiful Scottish scenery surrounding the impressive distillery walls and all this only a few minutes from Elgin train station. No wonder it is known as the Heart of Speyside affectionately the world over. Stewart took us through the distilling process of this magical and still relatively small distillery. The in-depth tour quickly began to highlight why BenRiach was a bit different from the other neighbouring Speyside distilleries – from the specially selected barley sourced from Portgordon Maltings, near Buckie to the distinctive copper stills and the high quality barrels selected for maturation.
One Further point of difference which this distillery enjoys and stands them apart from the other Spey Valley distilleries is of course the traditional floor maltings with their distinctive pagoda style chimneys which can produce peated, malted barley, enabling the distillery to capture the defining taste of peat reek in a few of their special bottlings.
The tour moved onto the warehouse and a highlight of any Distillery Tour. This was to prove no different and the feeling of being able to try different cask after different cask, can only be likened to childhood memories visiting toy shops or opening your first present on Christmas morning. It was incredible, the aromas which we experienced from some of the port and bourbon casks were out of this world.
The final part of the tour brought us back to the newly furnished distillery lounge where we were presented with 9 single cask samples ranging from 1993 to 1976 with cask influences ranging from Sherry to Bourbon. The BenRiach characteristics of light fruity vanilla flavours were present in all the samples however it is never fails to amaze me how much of an influence the different use of casks have on BenRiach whisky. Surely there cannot be many more innovative distilleries out there that manage to keep the quality to such a high level but keep each expression perfectly unique.
One of the main reasons for the visit was the privileged opportunity to select a single cask Benriach whisky and the whisky which we agreed on was the outstanding BenRiach 1977 matured in a Pedro Ximenez cask. A real stand out and a whisky which will blow your socks off, to be bottled exclusively for The Whisky Shop where there will be less than 300 bottles yielded from the cask. More details of our W Club Members experience to follow but for now a big thank you to everyone who made this selection possible and watch this space for the next lucky W Club members experience. As they say, it could be you!
BenRiach 1977 tasting notes.
Nose:Rich soft aromas sweet fruits and sugar coated almonds.
Palate: Complex, there is a lot going on here with the rich dried fruits which you would expect then alluding to further sweetness with some treacle and toffee notes Even a hint of trifle is in there. A drop of water releases further life from this 1977 vintage with soft plums and sugar cane coming to the fore.
Finish: The finish is long lasting with hints of candy floss and further rich fruits.