A dram of whisky is a traditional accompaniment when celebrating Burns Night which takes place on the 25th of January. Two of Scotland’s best-known whisky distilleries are, Benriach and Glendronach, known for creating whiskies with character.
Whisky is more than a drink. It has been revered for centuries as something that purges, cheers and soothes. Distilleries respect every aspect of producing a whisky, and the two companies, Benriach and Glendronach, have refined their processes over hundreds of years. Both are located in the northeast of Scotland near the river Spey and use the highest quality local ingredients in the distilling.
Whisky has to be the drink to toast Rabbie on the day of his birth, the 25th of January 1759 and start the night of celebration. If you choose to host an event or indulge with a few friends, the quality of the whisky is essential, and you want one with heritage and age.
Benriach has a history of creating peated and triple-distilled whisky, and under Master Blender, Rachel Barrie and her team continue to expand their portfolio.
The Benriach Original Ten is the perfect introduction to the distillery’s signature style, a richly layered Speyside Single Malt. It encapsulates the multi-layered and signature smooth character of Benriach. Three cask matured for at least ten years in bourbon barrels, virgin oak and sherry casks to create layers of sumptuous honeyed malt, luscious orchard fruit, and toasted oak interwoven with a trace of smoke.
Rachel Barrie, Master Blender, says, “Luscious orchard fruit on a base of beautiful vanilla cream and pastry, that for me is The Original Ten.”
The Benriach Original Ten has a summer gold colour; on the nose, you get toasted oak with honey and a richness of orchard fruits. The taste of your palate continues from the smell as you get nectarine, ripe pear and malt sweetness. You finally get the notes of spice, vanilla, and almond.
Benriach’s Smoky Twelve is the perfect marriage of malt, rich layers of smoke, oak and fruit. It combines peated and unpeated spirit and is three cask matured for twelve years in Marsala wine casks, bourbon barrels, and sherry casks. The whisky from each cask is then expertly blended to create a multi-layered, smooth, creamy, single malt with flavours of warming oak spice, ripened fruit, and aromatic smoky sweetness.
You get a whisky that is the colour of burnished gold, with a nose of toasted almond, charred orange and smoked vanilla. Pleasant to smell and augments the taste of brown sugar, fruit peel, smoked oak, and dark chocolate, slowly fading into cocoa and orange smoked finish.
Rachel says, “Longer maturation brings more aromatic layers to our distinctive smoky style. For me, it’s baked orange in a wonderful cake, fired over an open fire, with dark chocolate flavour.”
GlenDronach Distillery was one of the first licensed distilleries in Scotland and was built in 1826. They produce a core range along with Specials, and the two I have chosen showcase the distillery’s excellence.
The GlenDronach Cask Strength offers whisky lovers an insight into the distillery’s signature character by bottling at the whisky’s natural cask strength, as was the custom before the turn of the 20th Century. A drop or two of water is added to reveal a cornucopia of flavour – treacle toffee, richly spiced bramble wine with lingering Seville orange peel, caramel, maraschino cherry, and a nutmeg layer.
The eleventh batch of The GlenDronach Cask Strength is a richly sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky matured in fine Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. The whisky’s natural colour is drawn from slow maturation in Spanish oak casks.
The colour is a deep bronze; on the nose, you smell dark honeyed treacle, orange and clove liqueur, and Mulled cranberry with a base of nutty oak.
The taste is treacle toffee interweaved with chocolate raisin, spiced bramble wine, sultana and cinnamon maple. You get the lasting taste of maraschino cherry, nutmeg, Seville orange peel and caramel.
The Glendronach original twelve is a richly sherried single malt matured for at least 12 years in a combination of the finest Spanish Oloroso sherry and Pedro Ximénez casks.
The Original Twelve has a deep amber-red-gold colour with a sweet nose of pear, ginger, mulled wine and creamy vanilla. Soft fruits, rich oak, and sherry sweetness combine with raisins, so you get a creamy, silky-smooth taste on your palate. The flavours last and are firm and slightly nutty.
Read more spirits guides, reviews and features here.