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Smoky whisky may not be the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of Speyside but back in the 19th century most of the region’s malts would have been imbued with the familiar peat reek.
Adding to its revamped portfolio, Benriach will release Smoke Season, a new single malt that celebrates the time of year when peated spirit flows from the stills. This special edition has been matured in both American virgin oak and bourbon barrels from a new recipe finely tuned by master blender Dr Rachel Barrie. It is the most intensely smoked whisky to be released by the distillery thus far.
Different to the peat sourced near the sea by west coast distilleries, Highland peat is sourced from the mainland and derives from ancient trees and heather producing a distinct aromatic smoke that toasts the barley at Benriach, resulting in an intense thread of sweet smoke that mingles with the staple orchard fruit character.
Dr Rachel Barrie said: “At Benriach we’re always looking to push the boundaries of what is possible in Speyside single malt. With intensely peated spirit batch distilled every year, we never stop exploring how the fruit and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in a range of eclectic oak casks, either amplifying or transforming the perception of peat. Smoke Season is the result of exploring 100% intensely peated malt, batch distilled and matured in 1st fill bourbon barrels combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American Virgin oak casks.
Crafted exclusively from intensely peated malt distilled in Smoke Season, the spirit is reminiscent of barbecue smoked fruit in a pine forest. American virgin oak and bourbon barrel maturation develop sweet caramel smoke and cinnamon spiced roasted apple, with hints of charred orange peel and hickory, concentrated at the bottling strength of 52.8% ABV. Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery calendar, and this new addition gives both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet and smoky character of Benriach single malt, crafted in Speyside, a whisky-making region rarely associated with peated malt.”
This new single malt will be released gradually to various markets starting from February, with a RRP of £53.
Visit the Benriach website here