You know that there are mythical places in Scotland when it comes to whisky, and yet they are not all haunted.


In central Speyside, for example, there is one that is located next to the town of Elgin in the thousand-coloured distillery, BENRIACH. This is its historic malting area where its barley is quietly germinating. It is with reference to this that the team at Rachel Barrie have created the new MALTING SEASON that we will taste today.

                                                                                                     Credit : Brown Forman Cie

We already had the opportunity to visit this typical distillery during the comparative tasting of two of their peaty references (10 year old Curiositas and Smoky ten - here) with their famous ambassador on the French territory Florian G.


But if we go back there today, it's not to talk about peat smoke (yes, peatdream also likes when there is no peat), but it's to look at its historical malting air.


Ok, the distillery dates from the very end of the 18th century, but we know that before being one of the Speyside references in terms of peated whisky, it had a rather tormented history, punctuated by a long period of closure (65 years without a drop of whisky coming out of the distillery). What we don't know is that, although the distillery was closed, the (original) BENRIACH malting plant continued to work during most of this period.


Indeed, if the distillery only lived 2 years before stopping production (from 1898 to 1900) and only started distilling again in 1965, its malting air remained active until 1999. For 65 years, it supplied malted barley to its sister distillery LONGMORN (located a few meters away), and then to its own production when it reopened its doors in 1965.


Its malting room has been emptied of its last germinated grains in 1999, when the distillery diversified its supply in the region for already malted barley. 

                                                                                                     Credit : Brown Forman Cie


In 2012, Billy Walker (then owner of the distillery) decided to germinate barley in the malting area (in particular for the production of his peated distillates). By the way, if you are in the area, you should know that the distillery is the only one in the area to let peat smoke out of its pagoda tower. The production is however only episodic, as the malting air is now working in May and at the end of the year, this is called the Malting Season ! From there to see a link with our tasting of the day...?


It is therefore to pay homage to those who raked, turned and aerated barley in the old fashioned way so that it could produce the necessary sugar, and also to highlight the audacity of her predecessor, that this year the "Master Blender" Rachel BARRIE decided to launch her MALTING SEASON. To do so, she brought out 24 barrels of either bourbon (first fill) or virgin oak, all filled with distillate from concerto barley germinated locally in November 2012 (making it an average of just over 8 years old).


                                                                                                                   Credit : Brown Forman Cie


So what about this golden yellow distillate typical of the bourbon cask which must be in the majority here.


The approach is very discreet and does not reveal itself immediately to the nose. 


When it enters the glass, the nose detects a very sweet and warm vanilla smell with some spices. However, it will also detect a certain freshness of citrus fruits. 


Once it has taken a breath of fresh air, when it goes back into the glass, the nose will detect a mellow apple and pear smell. It will also notice when the temperature of the speyside warms up (and this is not related to global warming but to the distillate). Finally, the nose will detect the presence of large vanilla aromas typical of bourbon casks. 


Overall, this distillate will not be very marked in alcohol, despite its 48.7% alc/vol.


The third part of the nose reveals a little more spice and a hint of almond.


The malted concerto barley is classy and comes out very lightly in the hand, accompanied by a very fine touch of smoke.



On the palate the distillate is sweet with a slight pear-like quality.


It quickly becomes spicy and peppery. While the pepper sticks to the tip of the tongue, the rest of the mouth is filled with a pastry and mellow side, with notes of vanilla and hazelnut. The honey then becomes stronger and the bitter almond becomes slightly tighter.


Its woody side will come out at the end when you swallow it. In fact, once swallowed, it leaves the freshness of a misty Speyside morning in the throat for a moderately long period, and a note of vanilla and almond.


If you compare it with its first cousin the ORIGINAL TEN (close in age), it will come out as sweeter, rounder, a little less medicinal and softer (although younger, the latter is impacted by a spell in sherry casks).


I think, once again, that Rachel Barrie's challenge seems to have been met! But what does she have in store for us in the future, so much so that she has been able to kick Benriach's kiln to the curb! See you in future adventures!