"Three cask maturation in bourbon, Jamaican rum and toasted virgin oak casks bring out intense smoked applewood flavour with honeyed sugar maple, all woven together with rich layers of smoke."
JIM'S DESERT ISLAND WHISKEYS
Benriach The Smoky Ten ScotchBOTTLE DETAILS
NOSE: Caramel | Corn | Spiced Cherries | Toasted Oak
TASTE: Rye Spice | Oak | Faint Sweet Honey | Green Apple
FINISH: Medium with lingering sweetness and some grain
SHARE WITH: While young, this is a blend to share with your “drink curious” not too judgy friends.
WORTH THE PRICE: I found Ingram an interesting expression. I am generally a Midwest Grain Products fan, and I like to support craft distillers/blenders with innovative ideas. With all that being said, at over $70 for a less than 4-year-old, sourced, blended whiskey, this would be a tough sell for me.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This whiskey is not a bust. It has interest and depth that you wouldn’t expect by its age. The blending is done well and with the innovative take on aging, I will give it a BAR rating. Try it first, if you can, before you buy. In the fifty dollar range, I would be tempted to go bottle.
OVERALL: O. H. Ingram River Aged Straight Whiskey, I found interesting whiskey. Aged in a floating “rickhouse” at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, in Ballard County, Kentucky. The theory being the gentle rocking of the barrels enhances the aging process. This process has its roots in the river transport of barreled distillate from Bourbon County delivered to New Orleans, with the transformed taste that apocryphally led to our native spirit. Does it make a difference? I have no idea, but there are a lot of people putting barrels on ocean voyages, riverboats, playing music to them, and even aging in cranberry bogs.
I have an issue with brands using invented or unrelated stories to support the “marketing” of their spirits. I don’t see that as an issue with O.H. Ingram. They have family history tied to the river and actually age on floating barges. They don’t hide the source, age, or mash bills of their product. Starting from typically quality rye and bourbon distillate from MGP in Indiana, aging for over three years and blended well, has produced a straight whiskey. It has a surprising depth for a young age. I found it drinkable neat, better with ice, but not particularly suitable for cocktails. My only issue with this product is the price, which is high for what it is. Understanding that the cost of sourcing and barreling probably drives this cost. If you find it in a bar, or you have the resource and drinking curiosity, I would not dissuade you from giving this one a try.
NOSE: Campfire smoke | Chocolate orange | Light brown sugar
TASTE: Honey | Pepper | The flavor (but not the heat) of crushed red pepper | Red delicious apple
FINISH: Medium-long and lovely | Campfire smoke | Oak
SHARE WITH: People who think peated whisky isn't for them, and people who know better.
WORTH THE PRICE: I found the price on this bottle ranging from 49-60. At about $50 MSRP, I think it would be tough to find a ten-year-old peated whisky that is this approachable and well-rounded.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle. Thank me later.
OVERALL: With all the press that The Smoky Twelve has been getting recently, I was anxious to find out if The Smoky Ten (which comes in 10 dollars cheaper) is as solid an offering from Benriach. If you're making a lists of 'Best Value Whiskies of 2020' this deserves on a spot on it whether your list is 20 bottles long or 5.
All the bottles I was fortunate enough to try from Benriach are solid whiskies on their absolute worst days and I'm keen to try some more from them in the future. To me, the peated whiskies stand above their unpeated offerings in terms of quality, and the hero of this one is the wood management. Each cask that the spirit is aged in takes center stage at some point in the tasting. The Jamaican rum casks offer some brown sugar and a bit of chocolate to pair with the peat and smoke on the nose. The bourbon barrels give the palate just the right amount of spice. Lastly, the toasted virgin oak ties the finish up in a neat, little bow that really makes you want to start the whole thing over.
I did not sample this with water, but will say that some time to breathe does it good, and I would be surprised if a drop of water or two didn't uncover something new in this one. If you've never had a peated whisky from Speyside, this would be a terrific starting point, and one that will certainly encourage you to #drinkcurious.
Disclaimer: Benriach provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.