Speyside distillery Benriach announced a new addition to their core range; one with a character quite unlike most other expressions familiar to the region. The Smoke Season uses intensely peated malt, creating a flavour that is reminiscent of barbeque smoked fruit in a pine forest. This special edition expression relies on a combination of first-fill bourbon barrels and charred American Virgin oak casks for its smoky-sweet notes and is bottled at a higher strength of 52.7 per cent alcohol per volume (ABV).
Fans of peated whiskies are partial to distilleries hailing from the Islay and Island regions, rarely associating the more approachable Highland whiskies with similar company. When in fact, heavily peated single malts were widely favoured in the region during the 19th century. In recognition of this, Master Blender Dr Rachel Barrie developed the small-batch release Smoke Season to be Benriach's most intensely smoked whisky, adding a different dimension to its otherwise fruity house character.
Official tasting notes from Benriach indicate layers of sweet caramel smoke, cinnamon-spiced roasted apple, hints of charred orange peel and hickory. The use of Highland peat also gives Smoke Season a distinct aroma of woodland heather, as opposed to the coastal and savoury character of peated whiskies from the West Coast and Islay. At nearly 106 proof, Benriach's latest addition carries a fair bit of swagger in its gait. A higher ABV rating may seem intimidating at first mention, but it allows for a more individualised approach to dilution. The gradual addition of water unlocks different aromas and flavours, making a higher-proof expression such as the Smoke Season a particularly attractive prospect for the adventurous.
Benriach also recently unveiled its Cask Edition Collection 2021, comprising 19 single malts of various cask maturations and vintages. Both peated and unpeated whiskies are included in this collection, with 11 different cask types ranging from Madeira to Port and Rum. As opposed to cask finishing, a full cask maturation allows the spirit to fully adopt the flavour characteristics as it sleeps, further adding to its complexity and depth. The age statement for Cask Edition Collection 2021 also runs the gamut: the youngest being 11 years and the oldest, 26.
Benriach Cask Edition Collection 2021
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