Smoky whiskies are not traditionally associated with Speyside, but look back through its distilleries’ archives and it’s clear that heavily peated single malts were the preferred palate of the region back in the 19th century.

Now creative Speyside distillery, Benriach, has released a brand new expression, Smoke Season, to add to its recently revamped portfolio. Celebrating the time of year where peated spirit runs through its stills, a tradition revived by the distillery over 50 years ago, Smoke Season is a small batch release that captures one of Benriach’s time-honoured seasonal production techniques.

Both intensely smoked and exquisitely sweet, the special edition has been two-cask matured in both American virgin oak and bourbon barrels – wood types intentionally selected to amplify the toasted sweet notes in Benriach’s smoky spirit. With a new recipe finely tuned by Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie, this expression is the most intensely smoked whisky to be released by the distillery.

Different to the majority of peat sourced near the sea by distilleries on the West Coast and Islay, Highland peat is sourced from the mainland and derived from ancient trees and heather. This character produces a distinct aromatic smoke which toasts the barley at Benriach, resulting in an intense thread of sweet smoke interwoven with Benriach’s staple orchard fruit character.

Bottle of Benriach Smoke Season with a UK label on burning peat embers with flavour notes

Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender at Benriach Distillery commented:

“At Benriach we’re always looking to push the boundaries of what is possible in Speyside single malt. With intensely peated spirit batch distilled every year, we never stop exploring how the fruit and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in a range of eclectic oak casks, either amplifying or transforming the perception of peat. Smoke Season is the result of exploring 100% intensely peated malt, batch distilled and matured in 1st fill bourbon barrels combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American Virgin oak casks. 

Crafted exclusively from intensely peated malt distilled in Smoke Season, the spirit is reminiscent of barbecue smoked fruit in a pine forest.  American virgin oak and bourbon barrel maturation develop sweet caramel smoke and cinnamon spiced roasted apple, with hints of charred orange peel and hickory, concentrated at the bottling strength of 52.8% ABV.  Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery calendar, and this new addition gives both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet and smoky character of Benriach single malt, crafted in Speyside, a whisky-making region rarely associated with peated malt.”

The release follows the distillery’s recent launch of a new portfolio, and will become available gradually in international markets from February. Smoke Season has an RRP of £53.

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Discover some of the world’s top whiskies with Diageo’s Rare and Exceptional portfolio

On Planet Whisky, few can beat the clout of Diageo.
In Scotland, Diageo owns 50 out of the 130-odd whisky distilleries. Cult names like Caol Ila, Talisker and Mortlach are amongst them. It also holds one of the largest inventories of whisky stocks in the world, some of which come from shuttered (but soon-to-be-resurrected) distilleries like Port Ellen and Brora.
Sitting at the pinnacle of Diageo’s massive whisky empire is the Rare and Exceptional, a portfolio of the company’s most-prized liquids. “On average we see fewer than 10 Rare & Exceptional releases a year,” says Adam Brewer, in an earlier interview we did with the head of private client sales. “There are usually fewer than 2,000 bottles per release, made on a global level, but it can be as few as 90 bottles. Once the bottles are sold out, the only opportunity to own one of these is if a collector chooses to make his or her own bottle available on the secondary market.”
John Walker & Sons King George V
“Rare and exceptional” as they may be, these highly-coveted bottles are made more accessible via a dedicated online store, which Diego launched in November last year. There are 48 bottles at the time of writing, with a price range of $150 (Cardhu 11 Year Old Special Release 2020) to $23,400 (Johnnie Walker Master’s Ruby Reserve 40 Year Old).
At our recent taster of the range, we were introduced to six bottles — John Walker & Sons King George V, Talisker 25 Year Old, Pittyvaich 28 Year Old, Pittyvaich 29 Year Old, Lagavulin 12 Year Old and The Singleton of Dufftown 25 Year Old. The first is a rich, creamy and highly drinkable blend of whiskies drawn from distilleries across Scotland that existed during the reign of King George V, including extremely rare casks from the silent Port Ellen. Its sweet, smoky aroma follows with notes of orange, raisins, figs and cinnamon, which are balanced by hints of vanilla, chocolate and toffee. Those new to maritime whisky brand Talisker will find a great initiation with the classic 25 Year Old, which has a whiff of the ocean on the nose, a medium body of citrus fruits and a long finish that is dry, toasty and slightly bitter.
Talisker 25 Year Old
The Pittyvaichs are especially pleasing. Hailing from a ghost 18-year-old distillery — one of the shortest ever lived on Speyside — that fell victim to industry consolidation in 1993, the two bottles have a mellow and a complex sweet-floral structure. The 28 Year Old is reminiscent of a gingery fruit cake, with traces of lemon zest, honey, mint, ripe red apple, vanilla and coconut, while its older sister, double-matured in Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso seasoned casks has a rich, fruity depth that ends dry and spicy, like a dense, powdered ginger tea. Both have less than 5,000 in availability.
Lagavulin’s 12 Year Old expression will appeal to fans of peated whisky. The pale-gold single-malt features top notes of ash and linseed oil, followed by light fruity notes of hard candy and a faint suggestion of the sea.
When it comes to smoothness, The Singleton is a clear winner. Its 25 Year Old, one of the oldest releases from the Dufftown distillery, is rich and dark, with sophisticated berry fruit aromas and flavours of peach and passionfruit. Only one cask in the brand’s 50,000 maturing whisky stock makes it to the Rare and Exceptional list, which only deems this bottle all the more desirable.
The Singleton of Dufftown 25 Year Old
If you’re faced with choice paralysis and love a more personal touch to your whisky shopping experience, make an appointment with Diageo’s Private Client team at its swanky office. You might even be privy to hush-hush whisky stocks that are unavailable online.
(Main and featured image: Pittyvaich 29 Year Old; all other images courtesy of Diageo)
The post Discover some of the world’s top whiskies with Diageo’s Rare and Exceptional portfolio appeared first on Prestige Online – Singapore.

Brora Releases Oldest Whisky Ahead of Reopening

One of Scotland’s most revered ghost distilleries, Brora, has released a set of extremely limited whiskies ahead of its grand reopening later this year.  The Brora Triptych set contains three distinct whiskies, including the oldest ever public release from the distillery. Brora operated for over 150 years before closing in 1983. Since shutting its doors,… View Article
The post Brora Releases Oldest Whisky Ahead of Reopening appeared first on Elite Traveler.

The making of Talisker 43-Year-Old Xpedition Oak: Adventurist James Aiken on the distillery’s latest and oldest release

In January 2020, as the pandemic first began to unravel, James Aiken embarked on a solo expedition across the Atlantic Ocean.
He was to single-handedly traverse the same route taken by the rowers of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, where competitors race across more than 3,000 miles of untamed sea from La Gomera, Canary Islands to Antigua. Onboard his boat The Oaken Yard were wooden staves, which Aiken would place on deck at various stages of his 24-day voyage. These staves, licked by the sea and kissed by the sun, later became part of the 10 special casks made to finish Talisker’s newest — and oldest — expression to date.

The journey is as arduous as it sounds. “Heading out to the ocean alone is a serious commitment and the Atlantic is the longest stretch I have undertaken,” says Aiken. “I prepared physically for months before, knowing that the strain of sleep deprivation and constant physicality would add up. There were days that I went 48 hours without being able to get any rest due to breakages in the rigging which I had to fix before I could stop and get any sleep in the cabin.”
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They say difficult paths lead to beautiful destinations, and proof is in the 43-Year-Old Xpedition Oak. Nurtured for over four decades, it’s the quintessence of the Talisker’s distinct style and character, with intriguing sea-salty notes, smoky-sweet flavours of bruised apples and a warm, peppery finish. “It didn’t disappoint,” says Aiken. “There is such a depth to the experience that really embodies the age of the whisky and care involved in its creation.” What makes the single malt even more desirable is its rarity: only 1,830 bottles are released, in honour of the year Talisker’s founders went on an odyssey that led to the opening of the distillery.

This isn’t the first time Aiken and the Scottish distillery have worked together. “I directed a film project with Talisker in 2019, so I got to know the brand well then,” Aiken says. “It was clear that we share similar values, including our love of and affinity with the sea. I believe that endeavouring into the outdoor realm is healthy and expansive, mentally and physically, and whether it’s hiking mountains or exploring local woodlands, there is always something fresh to experience and Talisker shares this ethos.”

Of course, the lifelong sailor took away more than spectacular whisky from his collaboration. “This expedition taught me even more to connect with nature’s elements in an entirely new way. The crossing was an almost meditative experience: both challenging and a joy. Any difficult times were overshadowed by the incredible experience of solitude and natural connection. Wild nights under starry skies and images of strange flashing phosphorescence — these are all etched into my memory.”
Each bottle comes with a piece of one of the staves that accompanied Aiken on his epic nautical adventure to transport you through the vastness of the Atlantic to the picturesque Isle of Skye as you savour Talisker’s finest.
The Talisker 43-Year-Old Xpedition Oak is part of Diageo’s Rare and Exceptional portfolio.
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The post The making of Talisker 43-Year-Old Xpedition Oak: Adventurist James Aiken on the distillery’s latest and oldest release appeared first on Prestige Online – Singapore.


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