The Dram That Nearly Never Was

Taste Review 23 – BenRiach 10

Benriach Distillery

Benriach is a distillery that nearly never was. Opened in 1898 by John Duff, who already had established the Longmorn Distillery next door in 1893, it was hit badly by the Pattison crash of 1899 which greatly rocked the Scottish whisky producers and saw the ruination of Duff. Benriach closed its doors almost as quick as they had opened, but its malting floors remained open. It never produced spirit again until 1965.

In 2004, a consortium of South African business men plus Billy Walker bought Benriach, and subsequently bought the distilleries at Glenglassaugh and Glendronach. This is almost a full circle, as prior to founding Benriach in 1898, John Duff had been Manager at Glendronach.

In 2016, Benriach was sold to Brown-Forman, the parent company of Jack Daniels.

Benriach was one of many Speyside distilleries that had their own railway engine, as the distillery was linked along with Longmorn to the Speyside line between Elgin and Craigellachie. There was also a spur from Longmorn railway station to the nearby Glenlossie distillery. This link was severed in 1968 when the line closed as a result of the Beeching cuts.

Benriach Trivia – Benriach is Gaelic for ‘Brindled Mountain’

The sample




10 y.o


43% a.b.v


Crisp Gold


Hazelnut, Almond, Green Apple, Clove


Fruity, Green apple skins, oak, black pepper, vanilla, dried apricot. The apricot and wood intensify when water is added.


Medium, spiciness continuing, cinnamon, barley.

The dram


A good, solid Speyside whisky. For the basic entry into Benriach, this is a nice tame example. This whisky is a triple cask whisky, and has seen time in an ex Bourbon, Sherry and a virgin oak cask. It is a pleasant marriage, and although the main taste I got from it was the apples, you can taste elements from all three casks.

Adding water did not improve the whisky that much, and the lack of Scotch mist when water was added suggests that this whisky may have been chill filtered at some time. However, the whisky is produced with no added colouring, so perhaps there hasn’t been any filtering.

Full size bottle with Rachael Barrie Signature

It was hard to determine whether or not I had a bottling from the pre-2016 sale of the distillery. Prior to the sale, the master blender was Billy Walker (10 y.o Classic), and afterwards it is now Rachael Barrie (10 y.o). This is more apparent on the full size bottlings, both of which are available from the Whisky Shop Dufftown for £35.95 (£1 cheaper than online shopping with the Whisky Exchange!). WSD is also where I got my miniature for £5.65.

I can definitely recommend this dram.

Slainte Mhath!

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