Another Benriaxh Single Malt this on with more rum barrel influence and peat added to the mix.
Still a great buy at the price point and a bit more traditional ( read somewhat peaty)
Notes: Benriach in Northern Speyside, has been around for about 120 years or so. While the Speyside region itself is home number of excellent whisky distilleries and to some of the most flavorful ( not counting the heavy smoke varieties from Islay)with lots of fruit, herbal and spicy notes being some of the distinguishing characteristics>
Benriach pushes these boundaries even further with their portfolio of single malts, their blending of same, and their inventory of unique casks to have a wider and more creative palette to create from.
not tied as much as some of their brethren to a house identity or core blend they experiment a bit more and the results of these risks are lovely. The use of a four water mash ( industry standard is three) and using a mineral-rich spring/aquifer as their water source, gives a unique complexity to their spirit something I wish to American Craft Movement would learn! They use s blend of bourbon, rum, and new virgin oak in their aging program for this single malt Scotch Whisky. This is different than the Original 10 which uses a mix of ex-bourbon, sherry, and virgin oak as their casks.
They do a number of expressions of their Single Malt, so far we have covered their Original 10, with The Twelve, and The Smoky Twelve to follow. This The Smoky 10, is distinguished from the Original 10 by more smoke/peating to add some more layers of Highland Peat to the mix of flavors and create a different expression.
Appearance: Wheat Sheaf gold.On swirling it leaves a thin even coat on the glass, transitioning to thin legs and a fairly persistent edge line
First Impression: Peat Smoke, oak char, bundled together with Pears, fruit, buckwheat honey, much closer to a more traditional single malt in my mind. While the Original 10was closer to an Eau de Vie or ann aged fruit brandy in many ways, it is obvious from the get-go that this is a Scotch Whisky
Taste: Sweet entry then almost immediate bites of smoke and oak notes nipping at your tongue with lots of fruit, pear, persimmon, apples, vanilla, touches of sandalwood, light tobacco, and a great mouthfeel from the minerality of the water, adding character and depth.
Drinks: Makes for any number of traditional cocktails for Scotch Whisky. Unfortunately, we only had a small bottle to play with so we were no able to do an in-depth analysis, but with all the fruitiness and structure this single malt can hold its own and shine.
Bottle: We only had a sample bottle so cannot really comment ( or have a picture) but it seems to be a fairly standard Single Malt Scotch bottle with clear glass to show the lovely color to full effect. Benriarch in big, bold, letters at the top, with “The Smoky Ten” I’m rust-colored lettering below, followed by Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey in black lettering underneath.
Other: Master Blender is a woman, a refreshingly more common thing these days as women have been proven to have better noses than most men – and are now becoming much more accepted in the spirits industry. Dr. Rachel Barrie has really created an outstanding single malt that pushes the boundaries of Single Malt Scotch in a good way! Also given the fact that even for bourbon now there seems to be a $10 per year premium for damn near anything, this Single Malt is in the $5+ a year bracket. With that kind of pricing and the very approvable flavor profiles, Benriach will be my go-to for buying for Novices and the Jaded alike.
Final Thoughts: A very different beast than the Original Ten. The addition of the heavier pear smoking adds to the existing bouquet of flavors nut IMHO somewhat overwhelms the charm that the Original 10 has as somewhat of an outlier with its flowery and spicy character. While this one can be seen as a return to the fold as it were, and something for people who like more peat it is not quite as unique by doing so.
Nicely done website with a lot of information and fast loading. While not possibly enough information for the whisky obsessed, it is well laid out and reasonably informative.