I recently attended a lunch tasting of BenRiach Scotch Whisky at Ostra. This was an invitation I was thrilled to receive; I don’t know a ton about Scotch, and the easiest way to learn more about a spirit is to attend a tasting led by an expert. BenRiach is a 120 year-old distillery of single malt scotch; its acquisition by Louisville-Based Brown-Forman in 2016 certainly makes it more accessible to Kentucky’s whiskey lovers. Stewart Buchanan, BenRiach’s Global Brand ambassador, led us through the tasting of four BenRiach expressions, each of which was paired with a creative and delicious food course.
In walking us through the tasting, Stewart pointed out that many folks who are new to Scotch often associate the spirit with heavy notes of smoke and earth. The peat flavor is is introduced into the spirit by drying the core grain — malted barley — over peat smoke for several hours. BenRiach offers both peated and unpeated expressions, offering a lot of room for exploration of the spirit’s flavor.
Tasting notes for BenRiach Whiskys
BenRiach 10 Year:
This accompanied our starter dishes of a kale pallet, oysters, and spotted prawn ceviche. I loved the mix of a lighter whiskey with these fresh and citrusy dishes.
Nose: toffee, vanilla and pear
Palate: green apple, sherry, clementine
Finish: light spice, nutmeg
BenRiach 20 year
This accompanied a main corse of Wild Boar Gemelli, truffle honey fries, and crispy brussels sprouts. Honestly, the whisky and the pasta were so amazing together that I completely overlooked my blogger duties. I loved the interplay of the gamey boar with the sweet, lightly smoky whisky. I really liked this expression a lot; the notes were more familiar for someone versed with American whiskeys.
Nose: Baked Pear
Palate: honey and red wine
Finish: lemon and barley
We finished with two peated expressions, Benriach Curiositas 10 Year and BenRiach Authenticas 25 year. These were served with two amazing desserts: the cricket flour brownies and the red velvet churros with cayenne nutella dipping sauce. While I’ve never been one for peated whiskys, this pairing really worked well to coax out the notes of the spirit. I don’t fully trust my palate enough to give tasting notes on the peated whiskys; I simply haven't worked with them enough to get a great read on what I’m tasting and smelling. The Authenticas 25 year opened up to a lovely raisin palate, which worked well to cut the indulgent chocolate notes of the dessert. (And that churro was nothing short of lfie-altering!!)
Thanks so much to Brown-Forman, BenRiach, Lemonade PR, and Ostra for the invitation. I look forward to further pursuing my nose for Scotch!