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Speyside's Benriach Distillery keeps floor malting tradition alive with new whisky


By Lorna Thompson

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A SPEYSIDE distillery has released a new whisky which is the first in a century to be produced entirely using barley from its historic floor maltings.

Benriach is one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the practice of floor malting.

Stewart Buchanan, global brand ambassador at Benriach, said the process was a labour of love and the distillery was determined to retain the highly-skilled tradition which dates back to the earliest days of the distillery.

After being steeped in water, the barley is spread across the malting room floor and turned by hand over several days to allow for optimum germination of the barley.

The malting team decides when the barley is ready to move to the kiln.

Stewart said: "Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive, with Benriach being one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the practice of floor malting.

"Distilling spirit from barley malted here on site is a true labour of love and something we are passionate about keeping alive here at Benriach as an ode to our creative whisky-making heritage."

Benriach is one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the tradition of floor malting. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
Benriach is one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the tradition of floor malting. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

For each new edition of Benriach Malting Season, master blender Rachel Barrie will select the type of barley and bottling strength.

The inaugural release is made from concerto barley.

Rachel said: "The unique process behind Malting Season allows the cereal flavour from the concerto barley to pull through and when married with the creamy, wholesome flavour from being two-cask matured in bourbon and virgin oak barrels, creates a truly unique expression."

Benriach dates back to 1898, when founder John Duff built the distillery on the site of the old Riach farm near Elgin.

Kentucky-based drinks giant Brown-Forman acquired the distillery in 2016 and its new visitor experience opened on May 21 this year after a major investment.

The first edition of the small-batch release is comprised of 23 barrels, all distilled on November 2, 2012.


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