Benriach

BenRiach Distillery

Region
  • Scotland

BenRiach Distillery exterior with sign for tours and tastings.

Name: BenRiach Distillery
Address: IV30 8SJ, Elgin, Scotland
Phone: 0131 456 2681
Email: info@benriachdistillery.co.uk
Website: www.benriach.com

 

History of BenRiach Distillery

Founding and Early Years

The BenRiach Distillery, nestled in the heart of Speyside, Scotland, was established in 1898 by John Duff. Despite its promising start, the distillery faced immediate challenges due to the Pattison Crash, a significant economic downturn that severely impacted the whisky industry. This unfortunate timing led to the distillery halting production just two years later, in 1900. For the next several decades, BenRiach remained mostly silent, except for its floor maltings, which continued to serve its sister site, Longmorn.

Revival and Golden Age

The distillery experienced a renaissance in 1965, reopening amidst a whisky industry boom. Ownership changed hands several times during this period, with The Glenlivet and Seagrams among its proprietors, leading to modernization efforts including the addition of two more stills. Despite these changes, BenRiach maintained a relatively low profile until the early 2000s.

Modern Era and Innovation

In 2004, the distillery underwent a significant transformation when it was purchased by The BenRiach Distillery Company Limited, a collaboration between South African businessmen Geoff Bell and Wayne Keiswetter and whisky expert Billy Walker. Walker’s tenure as Master Distiller marked a period of creativity and expansion, including the acquisition of GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries.

Acquisition by Brown-Forman

In 2016, BenRiach took another turn in its storied history when it was sold to Brown-Forman, an American company known for managing several high-profile beverage brands. This acquisition, valued at £285 million, represented a significant return on investment for its previous owners and ushered in a new chapter for the distillery under the guidance of Master Blender Rachel Barrie.

Current Operations and Future Prospects

Today, BenRiach is known for its innovative spirit and diverse whisky offerings. The distillery has embraced changes in barley varieties, moving away from concerto to a blend of Laureate, KWS Sassy, and LG Diablo. It also experiments with peated and triple-distilled spirits, contributing to its reputation as a “chameleon malt” for its versatility in cask finishing. With a rich history of resilience and reinvention, BenRiach continues to be a distillery worth watching in the ever-evolving whisky landscape.

 

Awards Won by BenRiach Distillery

  1. San Francisco World Spirits Competition (Recent Year):
    • Achievement: Seven Double Gold Medals.
    • Awarded For: A variety of single malts including The Smoky Ten, The Twelve, The Smoky Twelve, The Twenty One, The Twenty Five, The Thirty, and Smoke Season.
    • Significance: This competition is among the most respected in the spirits world, highlighting BenRiach’s excellence across a broad range of offerings.
  2. International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) 2014:
    • Achievement: Eleven medals, including two Gold Outstanding.
    • Awarded For: BenRiach 12 Years Old and Glenglassaugh 30 Years Old.
    • Significance: These awards underscore the distillery’s mastery in crafting aged whiskies that stand out for their quality and flavor.
  3. Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards 2022:
    • Achievement: Gold Medal.
    • Awarded For: BenRiach 12 year old single malt.
    • Significance: Recognizes the distillery’s expertise in producing high-quality, fruity Speyside malts, further cementing its reputation in a region known for exceptional whiskies.
  4. International Wines and Spirits Competition (2006):
    • Achievement: Gold Medal for the 16-year-old malt.
    • Significance: Marking its first significant accolade at this competition, this award set the stage for BenRiach’s growing recognition in the spirits industry.
  5. Malt Advocate Whisky Awards 2007 & 2008:
    • Achievement: Distillery of the Year.
    • Significance: This honor not only celebrates BenRiach’s outstanding production but also its significant impact and contribution to the whisky industry, marking it as a year of notable industry acknowledgment.
  6. World Whiskies Awards 2015:
    • Achievement: Global Whisky Distiller of the Year.
    • Significance: This prestigious title affirms BenRiach’s standing on the global stage, recognizing its excellence in whisky production and innovation.

BenRiach Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The BenRiach Distillery offers a comprehensive and engaging tour experience for visitors interested in exploring the art of whisky making. Located in Speyside, Scotland, the distillery provides a variety of tours and experiences designed to cater to both whisky connoisseurs and newcomers alike.

Tour Offerings at BenRiach Distillery:

The Original Tour: This 75-minute tour includes a guided visit through the distillery to explore the whisky-making process and the eclectic cask maturation that defines BenRiach’s unique single malts. The experience concludes with a tasting of 3 whiskies and the opportunity to create your own BenRiach cocktail. The tour is priced at £20 per person​​.

Barley to Barrels: For those interested in a deeper dive, this 2-hour experience focuses on the journey from barley to barrels, offering insights into the distillery’s whisky-making heritage and cask selection. Visitors will enjoy a tutored tasting of five whiskies from the BenRiach range, after exploring the distillery and Warehouse 13. This tour is available for £45 per person​​.

Grape and Grain: This premium 2.5-hour tour takes visitors through Warehouse 13 to explore the diversity of casks used for maturing whisky, including sherry, port, Madeira, and Marsala. It features a tasting of 5 limited releases and single cask bottlings, accompanied by food pairings. The experience costs £65 per person​​.

Evening Experiences:

BenRiach also hosts special evening experiences on select Friday evenings throughout the year, offering unique tastings such as archive drams, single cask tastings from different decades, and explorations into the variety of casks used in maturing BenRiach whisky. Prices for these experiences range from £35 to £100 per person, depending on the theme​​.

Visitor Centre:

The distillery’s visitor centre, opened in May 2021 following a significant investment, features a bar, tasting lounge, and retail space. Initially, two flavour-focused tastings were introduced: the “Sense of Flavour” and the “Barrels, Butts and Barriques” experiences, allowing visitors to explore BenRiach’s diverse flavour spectrum through guided tastings​​​​.

Planning Your Visit:

Location: Benriach Distillery, Elgin, IV30 8SJ, Scotland.

Opening Times: Open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm​​.

Pre-booking: Visitors are required to pre-book their preferred tasting online before attending the distillery​​​​.

Flask & Barrel Review of BenRiach Distillery

BenRiach, nestled in the heart of Speyside, stands out in my journey for a few reasons, and if I were to rate my experience, it’d sit comfortably at a 4.7 out of 5.

First off, the setting is just what you’d expect from a top-tier distillery in Scotland. There’s something about Speyside, with its rolling hills and clear waters, that just sets the stage for producing exceptional whisky, and BenRiach taps into that essence beautifully. The distillery itself blends tradition with a touch of modernity, making you feel like you’re stepping into history without leaving the conveniences of today behind.

The tour was a highlight for me. It struck the perfect balance between educational and entertaining, diving deep enough into the process to satisfy my inner whisky geek without getting lost in the weeds. Seeing the passion of the staff and the meticulous care that goes into every step of the whisky-making process, from malting to maturation, was genuinely inspiring. As someone who’s visited their fair share of distilleries, I appreciated the unique touches BenRiach brought to the table, especially their experimentation with different cask finishes which really shine through in the final product.

Now, let’s talk whisky. The tasting session at the end of the tour was, without a doubt, a standout moment. BenRiach’s range is impressively diverse, and getting to sample their expressions side by side highlighted their mastery over the craft. Each dram was a discovery, from the richly sherried notes to the subtle smokiness that characterizes some of their peated offerings. It’s clear they’re not just sticking to the script; they’re writing their own.

However, no review is complete without a touch of constructive criticism. While the experience was near flawless, I found myself wishing for a bit more engagement with the distillery’s history during the tour. There’s a rich story behind BenRiach, and though it was touched upon, diving deeper into its past and the personalities that shaped it would have added that extra layer of connection.

In closing, my visit to BenRiach was an unforgettable chapter in my whisky journey. It’s a distillery that doesn’t just rest on the laurels of its Speyside location but pushes the envelope in crafting whiskies that are both innovative and respectful of tradition.

What To Do Nearby BenRiach Distillery

Lady Hill: Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area from Lady Hill, ideal for photography enthusiasts and sightseers. It’s accessible 24 hours a day, making it a flexible option for any schedule.

Duffus Castle: Discover the medieval ruins of Duffus Castle, where informational boards narrate its storied past. The castle is open 24 hours, allowing for a historical exploration at any time.

Cooper Park: A historic and picturesque recreation area known for its beautiful scenery and selection of cakes and takeaway sandwiches. Cooper Park closes at 8 PM and reopens at 10 AM on Saturdays.

Millbuies Country Park: Available 24 hours, this country park provides serene walks around a loch, with options for shorter routes, ideal for nature lovers seeking tranquility.

Elgin Cathedral: Explore the ruins of this centuries-old Catholic church, offering insights into Scotland’s architectural and religious history. The site opens at 10 AM on Saturdays for visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near BenRiach Distillery?

The Mansefield Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them at +44 1343 540883. Their location is at 2 Mayne Rd, Elgin IV30 1NY, United Kingdom.

Pizzeria Toscana: This restaurant also has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. To make a reservation, their contact number is +44 1343 551066. You can find them at 20 Thunderton Pl, Elgin IV30 1BG, United Kingdom.

Pattaya Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1343 551577. Their address is 54 High St, Elgin IV30 1BU, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near BenRiach Distillery?

Premier Inn Elgin: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 333 777 7926. Their address is 15 Linkwood Way, Elgin IV30 1HY, United Kingdom.

Laichmoray Hotel: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them at +44 1343 540045. Their location is Maisondieu Rd, Elgin IV30 1QR, United Kingdom.

Royal Hotel: This hotel has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. To make a reservation, their contact number is +44 1343 542320. You can find them at Station Rd, Elgin IV30 1QW, United Kingdom.