The BenRiach (10 year) “Curiositas”

BenRiach is a Speyside distillery that recently underwent significant renovations and was reopened after a period of inactivity. ‘Curiositas’ is so named because relatively few Speyside malts are peated, especially to this degree. It is not exactly an attempt to imitate the Islay style, which often has more maritime flavors of seaweed, brine, and iodine. Instead, BenRiach seems to be experimenting with the earthy, woody aspects of peating.

Color is a pale straw yellow, lighter even than a Sauvignon Blanc wine.

The peat is evident in the aroma, although not as smoke-heavy as a Laphroaig. There is some cherry in the scent, and a suggestion of Grapefruit or blood orange. The peat is complicated by an overtone of wood varnish.

The palate is crisp and focused, with a little minerality, very little sugar, and an equal helping of peat and a cereal quality like Mexican beer. Some lime and limestone develops on the tongue, along with a medicinal bitterness. I also taste grape skins or seeds – reminiscent of Grappa.

The finish is oaky but without vanilla, and is short to medium in length.

With a dash of water, this Scotch becomes more aromatic and a little less mineral. The flavors are challenging, but the complexity will grow on you.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Sister distillery to GlenDronach – both were owned by The BenRiach Distillery Company, which saved BenRiach from mothballing by previous owners Pernod Ricard. In 2016, bourbon giant Brown-Forman purchased the two distilleries along with Glenglassaugh. The distillery has had a rocky past, being first mothballed 2 years after opening in 1898, to lay fallow for more than 60 years. It was then primarily used as a blending component until recently, when it has shown well on the single malt circuit. BenRiach produces a lighter distillate with a wide cut that shows the elegance of the barley. Some heavily-peated stocks (probably made to supplement Islay malt in blends) have been released as unusual peated Speyside single malts. The process water is from Brown Muir, which runs over sandstone and is quite hard water. The distillery has six stills, eight stainless steel washbacks, and has just reopened its own floor maltings.
The BenRiach (10 year) “Curiositas”
46.0% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $55-$65
Acquired: (Bottle): Total Wine in Gilbert, AZ. $55.

Share This!

  • I’m on my third bottle of this and would have to agree that it is very peat-forward and not smoky per se.

    If you can still find it, do try it with a dash of water. It helps control the mild bitterness at the end. To be honest, it will not give you the same experience that you will get from an Ardbeg 10 or Laphroaig 10. To me it sits somewhere in the middle of those two flavour profiles just without the smoke.

    Cheap and cheerful ($34 where I live, Glenfiddich 12 is now $50). Good for sharing.