is amazing. There I said it. A brand criticised for it’s vast number of finishes and styles often claimed to cause confusion (by the people with one favourite and without the freedom to experiment), BenRiach has a fantastic range and array of whiskies out there, each one coming from an amazing distillery.
We showed up to BenRiach on a Saturday morning in December. Ewan, the head warehouseman for the group had come in on his day off to show us around one of the cutest looking distilleries out there. Next to the Behemoth that is Longmorn, BenRiach is a breathe of fresh air.
The best thing about this tour, was the tour guide. To be shown around by a warehouseman gives you a totally different perspective on the process. To learn about cask management, filling and logistics of warehousing is incredible. The distillery itself is lovely, the wash like warm Magners, and the stills shiny and ready to go.
The best part though, is the filling store. Here is the place to taste whisky or indeed new make. To be handed a sample from a plastic bucket gives the spirit a whole new nakedness. Try from a fancy decanter or a mahogany box or a skull shaped bottle and your perceptions are heightened. Try from a plastic bucket and the spirit shines for what it is. The 20 year old we tasted that day was magical, and beside the new make we could see the importance of barrels and maturation on the whisky.
In the warehouse Ewan showed us his favourite casks and how they came to decide on their huge range. We then headed back to his office to sample from said range. Once again, whether on purpose or not, the spirits were given a clean slate to shine from. The sample bottles bore no resemblance to the bottles you see on the shelves at the shops, but the product inside was identical. We were given a spreadsheet of the whiskies on the table, and the group set about finding our favourites. Before we set out, we did have one Whisky Adventurer unsure about the range of whiskies out there, a claim he had made in the past about other distillers. I think he has finally embraced these ranges. They will always all have their own merits and nuances. What’s the difference between having 30 from one distillery compared to 30 from many distilleries? Okay, the range of flavours may not be as extreme, but there is still a huge range of flavours. This is where BenRiach have got it right. The difference from one PX finish to another IS noticeable, otherwise, what would be the point?
If BenRiach is causing you selection problems, my advice is to try as many as you can. They are all highly drinkable and affordable, and I’m sure that your friends would be more than happy to join you and help you struggle through the next bottle. If not drop me an email and I’ll come round and help!
p.s. This will be my last big post before Christmas, (there’s a Name That Distillery due out on Christmas Eve) so I’d like to thank all Whisky Adventurers for tuning in over the last 3 months. I’m almost at 10,000 views and am humbled that so many of you have enjoyed reading about my life in the Whisky Industry so far. 2012 will see some big changes for me personally, and should see me hitting the road a lot more, so I look forward to bumping into you for a dram or two on my travels, but more about that later. I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season whatever your beliefs (I’ll be celebrating the anniversary of the first ever Glenfiddich Distillation on Sunday) and I’d like to wish you all a prosperous 2012.
In my glass: BenRiach 1995 Pedro Ximinez finish
my favourite Benriach finish.