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Benriach’s ‘Malting Season’, ‘Smoke Season’ Whiskies See Second Releases

Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky recently announced the second editions of two annual expressions that hark back to the early days of the Speyside distillery.

The expressions Malting Season and Smoke Season are a nod to Benriach’s mothballed history where it remained in operation through floor malting and producing peated whiskies for other distilleries.

A statement from Benriach notes that these releases reflect the time-honored practices that happen once a year.

Benriach Malting Season Batch 2
Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky recently announced the second editions of two annual expressions that hark back to the early days of the Speyside distillery. (image via Benriach)

The first edition was introduced in the U.S. in 2021, now the second edition of Benriach Malting Season is created with a process that brings out the creamy flavor found in the distillery’s floor-malted spirit.

Master Blender Rachel Barrie explained that she selected Concerto barley (same as first edition), and slightly increased the barrel strength for this second edition, resulting in a slightly different flavor profile.

Benriach’s unique floor malting method is a process that requires a team of dedicated craftspeople. The distiller explained that after being steeped in water, the barley is spread across the malting room floor and turned by hand over several days to allow for optimum germination of the barley.

Doing it by sight, the malting team decides when the barley is ready to move to the kiln and that’s when they fire up the iconic pagoda-shaped chimney.

The Benriach Smoke Season expression is a small-batch release that’s made when the peated spirit runs through its stills, representing a tradition revived by the distillery more than 50 years ago.

The spirit is the result of intensely peated malt, batch distilled and matured in first-fill bourbon barrels combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American virgin oak casks.

And while smoky whiskies aren’t normally associated with Speyside, a check of Benriach’s archives shows that heavily peated single malts were the preferred palate of the region in the 19th century.

Smoky and sweet, the recipe for the second edition remains the same as the first and is made with Highland peat, sourced from ancient trees and heather of the mainland, unique from the majority of peat sourced near the sea on the West Coast and Islay.

The distiller notes that this character makes a distinct aromatic smoke that toasts the barley at Benriach, and blends with the distillery’s orchard fruit character.

“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with Benriach,” said Master Blender Rachel Barrie. “Meanwhile, Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery’s calendar, and these annual releases give both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet and smoky character of our Speyside single malt.”

Malting Season – 48.9% ABV, $159.99 suggested retail price (700ml)

  • Color: Barley gold.
  • Nose: Malt sweetness with barley sugar and mandarin covered in white chocolate.
  • Palate: Honeycomb infused with citrus and orchard apple.
  • Finish: Fruit, malt and vanilla cream.

Smoke Season – 52.8% ABV, $77.99 suggested retail price (750ml)

  • Color: Burnished gold.
  • Nose: Barbecue smoked fruit in a pine forest.
  • Palate: Sweet caramel smoke and cinnamon-spiced roasted apple.
  • Finish: Charred orange peel and hickory.

Benriach’s Malting and Smoke Season whiskies are available in limited quantities in select markets. To find out more, check out www.benriachdistillery.com.

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