Whisky Focus - Benriach Smoke Season Review

Benriach Smoke Season Review

25th February 2021
Review of peated Benriach Smoke Season.

The Benriach distillery has added what they describe as their "most heavily peated single malt" to their recently revamped whisky range, the Benriach Smoke Season, a small batch release that has been bottled at the rather flavoursome strength of 52.8% ABV.

Back in the 1898, when the Benriach distillery was established, like the majority of Speyside distilleries of that time, peated whisky production was the norm but with the emergence of modern fuel sources peat was used less and less in Speyside distilleries, even Benriach. Benriach actually closed in 1900 but reopened again in 1965 then in 1972 the Benriach went back to its roots when it restarted the production of peated Benriach.

Following the revamp of the Benriach core whisky range late last year the creative Speyside distillery has now added this brand new high strength expression, Smoke Season to its whisky line-up. It celebrates the time of year where peated spirit runs through the Benriach stills, a tradition revived by the distillery in 1972, Smoke Season is a small batch release that captures one of Benriach’s time-honoured seasonal production techniques.

The peat used to produce the Benriach's peated whiskies is different to the majority of peat sourced near the sea by distilleries on the West Coast and Islay, the Benriach uses Highland peat, which is sourced from the mainland and derived from ancient trees and heather. This character produces a distinct aromatic smoke which toasts the barley at Benriach, resulting in an intense thread of sweet smoke interwoven with Benriach’s staple orchard fruit character.

Described as  intensely smoked and exquisitely sweet, the special edition Smoke Season has been two-cask matured in both American virgin oak and bourbon barrels - wood types intentionally selected to amplify the toasted sweet notes in Benriach’s smoky spirit. With a new recipe finely tuned by Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie, this expression is the most intensely smoked whisky to be released by the distillery.

With a RRP of £53 you will soon find the new Benriach Smoke Season available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt

Benriach Smoke Season Review

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: A lovely gentle sweet Demerara sugared, vanilla laced, peat smoke. Caramel, a little distant slightly candied orange, cinnamon and touch of pepper.

Taste: Just what the nose said was coming, luscious mouth coating sugary sweet peat, infused with spiced green pear, vanilla and caramel, late zesty orange.

Finish: Deliciously long, the zesty orange fades first, followed by the caramel and vanilla leaving the delicious lingering and slightly drying sweet peat and oak spice.

Comment: An outstanding 'Highland peated' Speyside dram, absolutely delicious, the mix of casks play there part well and the bottling strength simply makes this a flavoursome sweet peaty pleasure. Benriach has produced some stunning peated single malts in recent years and this is up there with the best of them.

SMW Score 94/100

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