A rather dramatic departure from the Smoky Ten, showing a fairly heavy peat smoke coupled with age and some interesting notes from the marsala influence.
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, sherry, and marsala in their aging program for this single malt Scotch Whisky.
They do a number of expressions of their Single Malt, so far we have covered their Original 10, the Smoky Ten, The Twelve, and this The Smoky Twelve. These four whiskies are a somewhat new reinvention of the Benriach portfolio and their carefully considered barrel-aging program.
A premium selection of Twenty One, Twenty Five and Thirty Year Old Single Malts will debut on U.S. shores in 2021
Appearance: A somewhat darker straw gold.On swirling it leaves a thin even coat on the glass, transitioning to thin legs and a fairly persistent edge line
First Impression: Smoky but not the iodine of Islay, dark fruit, dates, baking spice, charred vanilla, and oak, with some yenidje tobacco notes, and other aromatic notes in the mix, possibly the marsala influence?
Taste: Smoky without the iodine and more subtle and herbal because of it. Almost delicate whiskey and a subtle step up from its younger sibling with interesting twists. Exhibits smoke and oak notes with lots of dark or stewed fruit, pear, persimmon, apples, oak, leather, vanilla, tobacco, again a Yenedjie or Balkan tobacco – not the Mahorka of an Islay. Still taste and feel the great mouthfeel from the minerality of the water, adding character and depth, almost the bones or skeleton that the flavors depend from.
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. This one though is more subtle and may be best enjoyed on its own as I think it may get too buried in a lot of cocktails.
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 SmokyTwelve” 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! Especially by making a relatively heavily peated but complex Speyside Malt. 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 $6 a year bracket. With that kind of pricing and the very approachable flavor profiles, Benriach will be my go-to for buying for Novices and the Jaded alike.
Final Thoughts: Imagine a fruity Islay and you are not too far off. Much like a well made intense hot sauce that has lots of heat but also complexity from other ingredients rather than just brute force, Ms. Barrie shows that you can successfully combine Heavy Peat with a lot of other flavors to come up with a truly marvelous and harmonious blend.
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.