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In 1897, John Duff of Longmorn decided to expand his business by creating an additional production unit on the land which adjoined his distillery. Named BenRiach, this second distillery lasted just two years before the fallout of an industry wide slump which would come to be known as the ‘Pattison Crash’ brought businesses across the land to their knees. BenRiach closed it’s doors in 1900, and the site would have been completely demolished, were it not for the malting floor which was still being used by neighbouring Longmorn.
After more than 60 years of silence, BenRiach would once more spring into life when acquired by Seagram’s in 1965 but when they were in turn bought out by Pernod Ricard in 2001, the still house quietened once again. Then, in 2003, a consortium led by master blender Billy Walker came to the rescue. BenRiach relaunched and quickly established itself amongst connoisseurs as a dram to look out for. With success came expansion, and soon the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries were added to the companies portfolio, creating an exciting range of some of the most in-demand drams on the market.
All seemed to be cruising along nicely for the BenRiach Distilling Co, until the announcement came in 2016 that the company were selling to US-based corporation, Brown Forman, owner of Jack Daniels. The news was greeted with trepidation in some quarters, with many concerned that their beloved drams could be radically changed as a result of the takeover. As yet however, core range expressions seem mostly unchanged where BenRiach are concerned and with the appointment of Rachel Barrie, formerly of Bowmore, as master blender, the spirit’s future would appear to be in safe hands.
Unlike many of it’s Speyside neighours, BenRiach spends part of the year producing peated whisky, a practice which, though once common, ended with the arrival of the Strathspey railway. Good links with the south brought alternative fuel in the form of coal by the carriage load, ending the need for peat fires and changing the character of the region’s whisky forever. Here though, BenRiach have revisited the taste of yesteryear with a 10 year old single malt dubbed ‘Curiositas’…
Smell: Peat Smoke rises from the glass to meet you but gives way to Heather Honey and Fudge with Toffee, Lemon and Chargrilled Meats.
Taste: Caramel and Orange at first, the Peat Smoke is more subdued than on the nose, Barbecue, Aromatic Smoke and Lemon with Peppery spice throughout.
Value for Money: Something a little different for those that like it smokey and it’s bottled at 46% – great value at £35.
Score: 44 / 50. About the Scoring…
A very nice wee dram with a pleasant oiliness, thanks to the higher strength and lack of chill filtration. Quite unlike the vast majority of Speyside drams whilst also retaining a unique identity when compared with more commonly peated west coast spirits. An affordable, unusual and, most importantly, very tasty wee dram.