Speyside Road Trip Day 3, Part 2: Benriach

The walk in the Glen Grant gardens was an ideal start to the day, so it was time for more distillery visits. For the sake of completion, we first dropped by the other distillery in town, Glenrothes. We knew that there’s no visitor centre or shop, so we just stopped to take this photo and then left again.

I am a fan of Glenrothes, incidentally – even though on paper I shouldn’t like the low strengths and chill-filtration of their core range, I was very pleasantly surprised by the excellent 12 year-old, which has become a staple at home.

The plan for the rest of the day was to check out the distillery exclusives at Glen Moray and maybe have lunch there. Benriach sits right on the main road from Rothes to Elgin, so it was a natural stop. What I thought was going to be a very quick browse around the shop ended up taking a bit longer on account of the very friendly welcome we received by [insert name here]. She was clearly very passionate about Benriach and knew her stuff, so it was a pleasure to have a chat about the distillery and our Speyside trip in general.

They did have a distillery exclusive, but it was way beyond my budget unfortunately. However, [insert name here] was very enthusiastic about Benriach’s Malting Season series and offered me samples of both the first and the second edition. The latter is currently available only at the distillery and will be released more widely later this month, so it was great to get a sneak peek. I should also note that I made it clear to [insert name here] that we were touring distilleries mostly in order to find exclusives and weren’t at Benriach with the intention of buying anything, but she was still keen for me to try the Malting Season.

I’m not sure if her hospitality and generosity played a part, but I was very impressed by the First Edition in particular. It was distilled in 2012 and matured in Bourbon and virgin oak casks, and it was fruity Speyside goodness at its finest – full of orchard apples and pears, discreet vanilla and a nutty, honeyed undertone. The Second Edition substitutes Sherry for virgin oak and is altogether more robust, although to be honest I enjoyed the more delicately fruity First Edition more. Annoyingly, it’s a bit overpriced at 90ish pounds, and [insert name here] was very understanding when I said that even though I loved it, I wanted to prioritise distillery exclusives. She recommended their sister distillery Glendronach, who have a bottle your own, but sadly we didn’t have time to pop by, and she agreed that Glen Moray would be a great stop for distillery exclusives.

Overall, it’s precisely this kind of interaction with distillery staff that I value most – passionate about their distillery but passionate about good whisky above all, her priority was to make us feel welcome and give us good suggestions instead of trying to sell their product. And this is why I wanted to make a separate post about Benriach, even though I didn’t do a tour and didn’t buy anything. I’m certainly more likely to buy Benriach now than if it was your usual interaction between a visitor and shop staff, which speaks volumes for companies that don’t micromanage their staff or force marketing-speak on their customers.

Next: after having teased it for two posts now, we finally get to Glen Moray and explore the hand-fill options.

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