Benriach has released Smoke Season, its smokiest single malt Whisky to date. The new offering is the latest addition to the Speyside distillery’s recently revamped portfolio. While smoky Scotches are not typically associated with Speysides, Benriach’s archives indicate that heavily peated single malts were favorable in the region through the 19th century.
Benriach Smoke Season is a small batch release that celebrates the time of year where peated spirit runs through the distillery’s stills. Both intensely smoked and exquisitely sweet, the special edition has been two-cask matured in both American virgin oak and bourbon barrels – wood types selected to amplify the toasted sweet notes in Benriach’s smoky spirit.
“At Benriach we’re always looking to push the boundaries of what is possible in Speyside single malt,” said Rachel Barrie, master blender at Benriach Distillery. “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.”
The distillery sourced Highland peat from the mainland that’s 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.
Benriach Smoke Season will become available gradually in international markets beginning this month (February). It is priced at £53 ($74 USD) and will launch in the United States come September 2021.