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Speyside Benriach Distillery Unveils Cask Edition Collection 2021; 19 Single Malts In 11 Different Cask Types

Quick Take:  

  • Distilleries are increasingly focused on showcasing a breadth of expressions through different casks. 
  • Benriach’s latest collection is focused on bringing out the distillery’s characteristic fruitiness. 
  • Casks used includes Madeira, Sauternes, Moscatel, Rum, Port (mostly tending to the sweeter flavor profiles to match Benriach’s whisky). 
  • Total of 19 single malts from 11 different casks, vintages 1994 to 2009. 
  • Benriach has been undergoing a major revamp and has been producing great whisky that is fruity (tropical fruits), spicy, oaky, sweet, slightly smoky, creamy and rich in texture. 
  • This will be a great chance to bag a birth year whisky at an affordable price. Personally I’m interested in the Rum barrel and Oloroso matured Benriachs. 

 


(Image Source: Benriach Distillery)

    A big theme in Whiskyland in recent years is for distilleries to get creative with their use of casks. For the beginners, casks are wooden barrels where distillate is left to sit in (after fermentation and distillation) to mature before coming out as whisky. To officially qualify as Scotch, this distillate is required to sit in that wooden cask for 3 years.  

    And fun fact! Distillate is typically colourless which means the brown/amber/golden colour you associate with whisky actually comes from the cask.  

    As Scotch is a symbol of heritage not to be trifled with, other regulations include what type of casks can be used but recent chatter has it that these rules may soon be amended to encompass a wider variety of cask types allowed.  

    Hence casks is a thing.


    (Image Source: Benriach Distillery)

    As Benriach would have it, their new collection, titled “Cask Edition Collection 2021”, which comprises of 19 single malts from 11 different cask types, looks to give drinkers a taste into a spectrum of different casks that are selected to highlight Benriach’s multi-layered fruity profile. 

    This will include both peated and unpeated whiskies, having been matured in casks including Madeira, Sauternes barriques, Moscatel hogsheads, rum barrels (a personal favorite) and Port pipes. The expressions originate from vintages 1994 to 2009.  

    Benriach Master Blender Rachel Barrie says: 

    “When it comes to experimenting with flavour through our rich inventory of cask types at Benriach, it is important to appreciate the individuality of the cask and its back story to tease out its full potential. Benriach Cask Edition Collection 2021 offers an insight into this journey, capturing unique moments in time at our Speyside distillery. 

    “Exploring cask maturation at this specific level continues to excite me about the flavour possibilities of Benriach. From the honey, apricot and stewed plum of the sauternes barrique to the smooth barley cream of the rum barrel, it’s a true joy to savour the palette of flavour in these cask edition releases.” 

    According to The Spirits Business, these are some of the expressions we can expect, 

    For Europe 

    • 1997 Cask #7420 – Aged 23 years, virgin wood barrel, unpeated, 51.6% ABV (France and Belgium) 
    • 1998 Cask #10298 – Aged 22 years, Marsala wine hogshead, unpeated, 52.2% ABV (Italy) 
    • 2005 Cask #2569 – Aged 15 years, oloroso butt, unpeated, 59.8% ABV (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Ukraine) 
    • 2005 Cask #1867 – Aged 15 years, rum barrel, unpeated, 55.9% ABV (Benriach Distillery visitor centre, Scotland) 
    • 2007 Cask #3944 – Aged 13 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, peated, 56.2% ABV (France) 
    • 2008 Cask #4052 – Aged 12 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, peated, 60.5% ABV (Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Poland) 
    • 2009 Cask #4833 – Aged 11 years, Port pipe, peated, 60.8% ABV (UK) 
    • 2009 Cask #1642 – Aged 11 years, Madeira hogshead, peated, 60.6% ABV (Andorra, Poland and Portugal) 
    • 2009 Cask #8562 – Aged 11 years, oloroso puncheon, unpeated, 58.9% ABV (Nordics and Eastern Europe) 
    • 2009 Cask #8748 – Aged 11 years, Moscatel hogsheads, unpeated, 53.9% ABV (the Netherlands) 
    • 2009 Cask #3911 – Aged 11 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, unpeated, 56.5% ABV (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) 

    For Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Canada 

    • 1994 Cask #1851 – Aged 26 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, peated, 51.5% ABV (China) 
    • 1994 Cask #1272 – Aged 26 years, oloroso butt, peated, 53.2% ABV (China) 
    • 1997 Cask #16004 – Aged 23 years, Bourbon barrel, unpeated, 51.1% ABV (Israel) 
    • 1998 Cask #2803 – Aged 22 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, unpeated, 52,7% ABV (Southeast Asia) 
    • 2006 Cask #5303 – Aged 13 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, unpeated, 61.2% ABV (Australia) 
    • 2007 Cask #8736 – Aged 12 years, muscatel hogshead, unpeated, 58.1% ABV (New Zealand) 
    • 2008 Cask #5813 – Aged 12 years, sauternes barrique, unpeated, 61.3% ABV (Canada) 
    • 2008 Cask #2014 – Aged 12 years, Pedro Ximénez puncheon, peated, 60.5% ABV (China/Southeast Asia) 

    My Take: 

    Benriach has undergone a huge marketing revamp that included a new core range, and a totally new set of labels and packaging. I personally welcome the change, the label is certainly cleaner, modern, and more communicative of the distillery’s whiskies and the core range is a lot more streamline and simplified.  

    Having tried the new Original Ten, I can certainly say it’s a great daily sipper, it is fruity, creamy and smooth, very accessible and easy to drink and I believe would suit most drinkers, even first time drinkers. There has been more focus on blends as well to give the whisky more complexity, which I think the Smoky Twelve does perfectly, combining port and bourbon casks. 

    Having watched the transformation of Benriach for the last two years or so, I really started taking a bigger liking to the distillery and have been increasingly interested in them. While I could see some critics shoot this new collection down as marketing gimmick, and I do think the sheer number of casks is abit much… I do think it’ll offer drinkers something to chew on and could be a fun and accessible way for first time drinkers to maybe bag their first birth year bottle. 

    Personally, I’m most interested in the Rum barrel and the Oloroso. I think the funkiness of Rum will go well with a peated Benriach and I think Oloroso (my favorite of the Sherry casks) will definitely add a kick and that added spiciness to Benriach’s fruit forward whisky. 

    Kanpai! 

     

    @111hotpot  



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