BenRiach 21 Years Old

BenRiach 21 Years Old (46%, OB, 2017)

  • Category: Speyside single malt Scotch whisky
  • Origin: BenRiach Distillery
  • Bottling: Brown-Forman, Official
  • ABV: 46%
  • Cost: £125

BenRiach 21YO bottle in front of packaging

What they say

BenRiach Distillery announces the release of a twenty-one year old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, unconventionally matured in a combination of four types of cask: bourbon barrels, virgin oak, Pedro Ximenez and red wine casks.

These four cask types are expertly blended together by the BenRiach Master Blender, Rachel Barrie, to create a multi-faceted and superbly balanced malt. Each cask amplifies unique notes of bourbon vanilla, virgin oak spice, PX sweetness and vinous red fruits developing from BenRiach’s signature sweet barley and fruit-laden style. This unpeated single malt is one of two BenRiach expressions to be released at 21 years old, and the other, its richly peated partner, will appear early 2018.

The quality of these whiskies has already been recognised at the 2017 International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) where both 21 year old expressions won Silver Outstanding medals.

At BenRiach we have developed a reputation for innovative maturation using an eclectic mix of cask types. BenRiach 21 year old is the next step on this innovative journey, bringing together four eclectic casks in one single malt: bourbon barrels at its core enriched by virgin American oak, Pedro Ximenez and red wine casks.
This new unpeated expression is likely to both surprise and delight, as it opens with fresh summer fruit compote, soft vanilla and vibrant candied peel, developing into tangy red fruits, barley sugar and the warmth of chocolate ginger. I look forward to sharing this enigmatic malt with all intrigued to discover more.

BenRiach Distillery Master Blender, Rachel Barrie

Official tasting notes:

  • Colour: Bright autumn gold.
  • Nose: Ripe summer fruit compote with contrasting candied peel and a warming stem ginger background.
  • Taste: Soft vanilla and cinnamon give way to tangy red fruits and citrus peel. Barley sugars and honeyed malt build into the long, sweet and satisfying finish.
BenRiach - Tasting of upcoming BenRiach release

Tasting of new 21 year old BenRiach expressions in the Kiln house at BenRiach Distillery

What I say:

Sampled during our visit to BenRiach Distillery and tour with distillery manager Stewart Buchanan. We spent a while in the kiln while Stewart explained the basic nature of much of BenRiach’s traditional (and mostly original) equipment, we sampled both of the new 21 Year Old expressions constructed by Rachel Barrie including both this 4 cask matured and the soon to be released BenRiach 21 Year Old Peated expression. Many thanks to BenRiach Distillery and Spey Progressive Communications for the sample.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Orange Amber gold (11/20), oily slow medium-fine tears taper to fine legs
  • Nose: Sweet and fruity, summer berries, strawberry, raspberry and hints of cherry, red berry cheesecake with a ginger nut biscuit base, soft vanilla, ginger and hint of cinnamon-dusting on sweet doughy pastries, soft biscuit or shortbread cereals of malted barley, light, fruity and fragrant
  • Taste: Full-bodied, unctuous and oily, coats the palate with a syrupy sweetness of mixed berry jam, raspberry coulis, fresh strawberry and that sharp acidity of Morello (sour) cherry, creamy vanilla and fresh root ginger predominate the spices with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, barley sugar sweeties and a touch of oak wood and tea-like tannins.
  • Finish: Long, spiced sweetness, back to that red berry and ginger nut biscuit cheesecake again from the nose.


A deliciously decadent dram full of dessert-like flavours enhanced with a sharpness from some of the fruit and gingery spice.

Score 90/100

Shop for BenRiach 21 Years Old (opens Master of Malt)

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Categories: Benriach, Speyside

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2 replies »

  1. The official 20-year-old, released by the previous owners shortly before they sold, is an immensely satisfying dram, just as it is-without having to be massaged by 4 casks. While I always find your tasting notes instructive and take your word that the 21 is a 90, I wonder why they need to tamper with the spirit to this extent, when I would prefer they let it be. There’s a sense that there’s not much old stock left in-house. Time will tell. Meantime, not everyone welcomes wine notes in their scotch.


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