Benriach Distillery sits in Scotland’s Speyside, the world’s most famous whisky region, and yet is often overlooked. It produces both peated and unpeated whiskies, and much of the peated expressions’ appeal lies in their refined profile. Instead of packing the medicinal, iodine explosion like most of Islay’s peat bombs, Benriach’s peat notes are gentle and sweet. The secret is in the local Speyside peat, which is vastly different from the peat of Islay.
That alluring sweet smoke wowed our tasting panel last year, when Benriach The Smoky Twelve emerged from the pack as No. 3 in our 2020 Top 20 Whiskies of the Year.
Scores and Tasting Notes For Benriach the Twenty One, Twenty Five, and Thirty
Benriach The Thirty
95 points, 46%, $740
Benriach digs into the vaults for this rare gem, and it’s a tour de force. The maturity shows at once, with an antique note of well-aged peat char and dark sherried aromas of dried figs and raisins. The palate offers flavors of cooked berries and baked apple, along with candle wax, dark chocolate, and roasted espresso beans. It all finishes with rich chocolate, old spice rack, and a parting note of ashy peat. A complete whisky. —David Fleming
Benriach The Twenty Five
94 points, 46%, $360
Subtlety sets the tone on this well-matured whisky, starting with the gentle smokiness of the nose, presenting as smoked almonds and crème brûlée, along with snickerdoodles, honey, marmalade, dried apricots, milk chocolate, and brown sugar. Water brings out black licorice, dried ginger, and hazelnut cream. Oily citrus, dried apricot and fig, milk chocolate, and candied ginger on the palate, with drying smoke and char. It finishes with cocoa powder, char, and well-woven spice and dried fruit. —Susannah Skiver Barton
Benriach The Twenty One
91 points, 46%, $200
Sweet and beguiling smokiness, with wild mint, vanilla bean, and chocolate-coated raspberries on a complex, vibrant nose. The mouthfeel is thick and flavorful, with warm notes of sweetened peat, red berries, and dark chocolate, followed by a long, velvety finish offering notes of orange tart, more chocolate, licorice, dark espresso, and a touch of wood-fired brisket. Lively, agreeable, and inviting—like the warm hearth of a mountain cabin at nightfall. —David Fleming