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BenRiach. Where Billy Walker can still use his malting floors.

BenRiach. This is one of the three distilleries that is now owned by the American company, Brown Forman (Jack Daniels). This was a difficult tour to get compared to its sister distilleries Glen Glassaugh and Glen Dronach. I had to book this in advance and it was quite pricey. It was well worth it though because not only do you get a private tour, but you get to see their malting floors where they still malt their own barley once a year. I also was able to get a better insight into how the three distilleries work together. They share databases, barrels, warehouses, workers, managers, warehouse staff etc. This was clearly evident since I saw a few of the same employees on multiple visits!

Apparently the malting was brought back on site for at least a few weeks out of the year because of Billy Walker. Billy Walker was co-owner and master blender for the BenRiach Group. He still is involved to this day even though the distilleries were sold. You can tell after visiting any of the three distilleries that he has a strong influence on everything that happens. This means that when he wanted a malting floor at BenRiach, it came to be. See the pictures below. It was quite amazing to stand on the malting floors and to see kilns that are actually put into use.

Currently they make about 2.35 million liters of new make spirit per year. It was only in 1994 that BenRiach released its first ever single malt and wasn’t just producing for blends. Right now two thirds of their production goes to their single malt. They run four waters in their mash tun ranging from 65 degrees to 93 degrees Celsius. All of their mash tuns are stainless steel. Fermentation can run anywhere from 48-72 hours depending on the time of week. They care currently only producing spirit 6 days a week. There are eight washbacks and they are all stainless steel as well. Their spirit stills are quite tall and their new make spirit right off the still is quite fruity. The filling station is on site where they also have about 20,000 casks aging at the moment. The aged spirit is then sent to Edinburgh for bottling.

BenRiach has quite a range of bottlings. Part of this is because they are very experimental with their casks. Although they will still start everything typically in bourbon, they have many different kinds of finishing casks. I will be honest with you, I am not a huge fan of their bottles. I still can’t put my finger on whether it is their labeling or the bottle shape. I think it is the bottle shape. They have everything from 10, 16 and 21 year old’s to multiple peated and non-age statement bottlings. Below are the ones that I tried.

BenRiach Single Malt 10 Year

finished in bourbon and sherry casks

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Berries, sugar cookie and vanilla.

Palate: Lavendar, lemon zest.

BenRiach Septendicim 17 Year- Peated

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Apple peat, apple tart, tobacco (weed).

Palate: Soft peat, no bite, slight pepper and apples.

BenRiach 17 Year Old Aged in Pedro Ximenez Sherry

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Cherries, pineapple, almonds and chocolate.

Palate: Old fruit, chocolate fudge, cedar box spice finish.

Next up is BenRomach..

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