Benriach The Smoky Ten is the peated counterpart of their entry-level expression. It is a mix of unpeated and peated spirit matured in three cask types: bourbon, virgin oak and Jamaican rum casks. They have a long history with this style, remember the Arumatics Fumosus? Funny to see it is given more power (46%) than the classic Benriach Original Ten.
We’ll try it head-to-head with its older brother, Benriach The Smoky Twelve. This is composed from bourbon, sherry and Marsala casks.
Benriach ‘The Smoky Ten’ 10 yo (46%, OB 2020)
Nose: quite a round, sweet style with the rum casks in first row. Pineapple sweets, peaches and honey, paired with vanilla and big hints of creamy coconut. Gentle wood smoke, with none of the medicinal notes that you’d get on Islay. Really accessible and also surprisingly rich.
Mouth: same feeling of sweetness and roundness. Coconut and pineapple again, with hints of almonds and honey coated nuts. Now there’s more earthiness, spice and smoky, bourbonny wood. Cinnamon and a light minty touch.
Finish: medium, on lemon zest, smoke and a hint of gingerbread.
Really good, and somehow this offers more body and more smoke than its older brother. Maybe The Smoky Twelve is more classic, but I prefer this one (by a small margin) because it’s so different from what you’ll find on Islay. Available from TyndrumWhisky or The Whisky Exchange for instance.
Benriach ‘The Smoky Twelve’ 12 yo (46%, OB 2020)
Nose: slightly more earthy than the Smoky Ten and frankly far less forthcoming. Less of that creamy sweetness. It’s rather on orange peels, cold ashes, walnuts and some leafy touches. Heather and savoury spice as well (pepper, clove).
Mouth: a more winey expression, with some red fruits (sour cherries), orange peel, dark chocolate and a bittersweet spicy note. Clove stands out. A hint of burnt sugar. The amount of smoke seems less than in the Smoky Ten, maybe because it stands out less in this savoury, autumnal composition.
Finish: medium, with a peppery note, orange and very light menthol.
This is a more classy version with a certain smoky finesse and more spice from the wine casks. Also good, but a little less fun. Available from Master of Malt or TyndrumWhisky for instance. Score: 84/100.