In 2016, Speyside-based BenRiach was acquired by Brown-Forman, making it one of just a handful of Scotch distilleries owned by an American concern. Built in 1898, closed in 1900, and reopened in 1965, it’s a worhorse of a distillery that doesn’t get as much credit as it should.
BenRiach 10 Years Old – This is currently the youngest release with an age statement in the Flagship range, which blends stock from bourbon and sherry casks. At such a young age, a whisky really shouldn’t be this fully-formed, but somehow BenRiach 10 shows off a depth of character you’d expect more from a 15 year old spirit. The nose is a delight of youngish malt, baking spice, and some sultana notes. That may sound very plain, but the palate is where this malt blows up. Boldly fruity, it kicks off with pear notes and some citrus before venturing toward chewy nougat and mashed banana, with notes of brown sugar and just a bit of cinnamon. The finish sees the sherry character the most clearly, a punchy bit of orange zest to give this quality whisky just the right amount of zip. 86 proof. A- / $50
BenRiach Curiositas 10 Years Old (2018) – A heavily peated expression of BenRiach (a rarity in Speyside), 10 years old, with no wood treatment specified. A boldly smoky whisky that could easily be mistaken for Islay, Curiositas takes the sweet, fruity core of the Flagship 10 and runs it through the peat machine. The nose is brimstone and baking spice, some apple notes and perhaps a touch of citrus peeking through it all. At first blush it’s overwhelming with peat on the palate, but in time that indomitable fruit core pushes its way through to reveal notes of apple, banana, marzipan, and dusky cloves. The finish is a bit ashy, but the surfeit of fruit makes it surprisingly seductive. 92 proof. B+ / $53