BenRiach Distillery Information
In the heart of the Speyside, between the village of Rothes and the town of Elgin, we find the BenRiach (Gaelic for “speckled mountain”) distillery in the Spey Valley. Founded in 1898 by John Duff (who also owned the nearby Longmorn distillery), part of the Grant family, it was built in the midst of the whisky boom of the late nineteenth century. The distillery was finished a few months prior to the famous Pattison Brothers bankruptcy scandal which crippled the whisky industry and led to the closure of a great amount of distilleries, some of which had barely just started themselves. Duff came into financial trouble as a result of the crisis, and was forced to sell the distillery shortly after it was completed. It was bought by Longmorn Distillery Co Ltd. They chose to close BenRiach in 1900; the distillery having been operational for just over 2 years.
It remained close until 1965, though its malting floors were operational to supply the Longmorn distillery. During the 1960s and 1970s, a new whisky boom led to the creation of several new distilleries, and Benriach was rebuilt and reopened by Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. In 1972, BenRiach started distilling peated whisky, which initially was intended to be used in blends (particularly Chivas). In 1978, Glenlivet Distillers Ltd was bought by Canadian firm Seagrams Company Ltd. The new owners expanded BenRiach in 1985, doubling the amount of stills from two to four. In 1994, BenRiach is released as a Single Malt for the first time.
Then, in 2001, Pernod Ricard snags up Seagrams. They decide to use BenRiach in rotational production, meaning distillation only happens for about 3 months per year. A year later, Pernod Ricard closes the distillery altogether. Luckily, in April 2004, an independent consortium, who resume bottling starting in August 2004, and distillation in September 2004. The malting floors were discontinued somewhere in the past, but have been well-maintained, and there’s talk of them reopening again somewhere in the near future.
The current owners, BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd., consists of Billy Walker, a former director of Burn Stewart, and South Africans Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter). Their resurrection of BenRiach (which formerly was known as Benriach. The new owners added the capitalized R) has proven to be so succesful that in 2008, they also acquired the Glendronach distillery, and in 2013, the Glenglassaugh distillery.
The Benriach Flagship range consists of the following:
- Heart of the Speyside
- 12 Years Old
- 16 Years Old
- 20 Years Old
There’s also the Peated BenRiach range:
- Brine Moss
- Septendecim; 17 Years Old, matured in ex-Bourbon casks
- Authenticus 21 Years Old; 800 bottles yearly. The 21 Years Old has been discontinued and replaced with the 25 Years Old
- Authenticus 25 Years Old
When Infra Trading took over the distillery, they also took ownership of the casks sitting in the warehouses. Some of those casks have been bottled as the Super Premium Limited Releases:
- 25 Years Old; Released in 2006. Limited to 3,000 bottles
- 30 Years Old; Released in 2006. Limited to 3,000 bottles
- 40 Years Old; matured in 2 hogsheads containing whisky distilled in 1966. Limited to 265 bottles.
- Horizons triple distilled
- Solstice 15 Years Old; matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, and finished in Tawny Port pipes
- Firkin; Distilled in 1978, bottled in 2010. 32 Years Old; limited to 32 bottles.
- Solstice 17 Years Old; matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, and finished in Tawny Port pipes
- 1996 Vestige; matured in a hogshead for 46 years, bottled at cask strength (44.1% ABV). Limited to 62 bottles
BenRiach has also been experimenting with different finishes. They offer an impressive Wood finish expression:
- Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish; 15 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry butts
- Madeira Finish; 15 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Madeira barrels
- Dark Rum Finish; 15 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Dark Rum barrels from JAmaica
- Tawny Port Finish; 15 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Tawny Port hogsheads
- Claret Finish; 16 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Claret wine barrels from Bordeaux
- Burgundy Finish; 17 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Burgundy wine barrels from Eastern France
- Rioja Finish; 17 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Rioja wine barrels from Northern Spain
- Sherry Matured; 12 Years Old, matured in American Bourbon, finished in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez Sherry Butts
There’s also peated BenRiach that has been combined with different finishes:
- Heredotus Fumosus; 12 Years Old, matured in American oak and finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry butts
- Importanticus Fumosus; 12 Years Old, matured in American oak and finished in Tawny Port Hogsheads
- Arumaticus Fumosus; 12 Years Old, matured in American oak and finished in Dark Rum barrels from Jamaica
- Maderensis Fumosus; 13 Years Old, matured in American oak and finished in Madeira wine barrels
|Water source||Local boreholes / burn|
|Owned by||The BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd.|
The BenRiach Distillery
+44 (0) 1343 862888
|Mash tun||5.8 tonnes||1|
|Washback||washback_c litres||8 (Stainless Steel)|
|Wash still||20,912 litres||2|
|Spirit Still||12,729 litres||2|
|Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)||2,800,000|
Images courtesy of The BenRiach distillery