First Slide Ben

A Unique Heritage

Our Heritage

The Benriach Distillery was founded in 1898 and although the rough-hewn walls of our warehouses may seem unassuming, they are home to a rare breed of creative expertise in whisky distilling and eclectic cask maturation. Our ingenious and dedicated team spend their days crafting our award winning Speyside single malts and tirelessly pushing the limits of flavour possibility. We are proud to say we haven’t reached them yet.

Read on to discover more about the moments that made us who we are today.

1898

Benriach Distillery is founded by John Duff.

The 1890s represent a busy time for the whisky industry with 33 new distilleries opening across Scotland. John Duff, a serial entrepreneur within the whisky industry, established Benriach in 1898. Having pursued whisky adventures at home and abroad, John decided that the best place to build his new distillery would be on a small hill, or ‘Ben’ at the site of the old ‘Riach’ farm, in the north of Speyside. Benriach was born.

1900

Benriach Distillery closes due to Pattison Crash

The distillery was a victim of unfortunate timing; BenRiach was operational for just two years before the ‘Pattison Crash’ in 1900 resulted in a period of hardship for the entire whisky industry, and the resultant closure of many distilleries.

 

1900-1965

Floor Maltings secures a future for Benriach

While the distillery would not produce whisky again until 1965, the floor maltings remained in constant production, providing malted barley for Benriach’s neighbour, Longmorn Distillery. A small train was used to connect the two distilleries, ensuring Benriach’s buildings remained intact and ready to be opened again.

1965

Benriach restarts production of its own malt whisky

In 1960, the whisky industry began to enter another boom period as a result of growing global demand for Scotch whisky, mainly in the USA. During this time, many new distilleries were built and mothballed distilleries fully re-opened. Benriach’s owners at the time, Glenlivet Distillers Ltd, worked hard to reopen Benriach with the same period features and character of the distillery that was first opened in 1898. Having undergone a successful renovation, the stills of Benriach began to run again in 1965.

 

1972

Benriach starts to explore peated distillation

In the early 1970s, Benriach returned to distilling some whisky in the old, 19th century style using malted barley smoked with Highland peat. It was a bold, unconventional move in a Speyside whisky-making region known for crafting unpeated whiskies. We harness this creative spirit to the present day as we craft baches of peated whisky during our Smoke Season and are fortunate enough to be maturing some of the oldest ever peated Speyside whiskies.

1985

Production ramps up at Benriach

Like many distilleries, Benriach has changed owners over the course of its history and in 1985 the distillery was bought by spirits company, Seagrams. Immediately after this, production was increased from two stills to four, and it is these four stills that keep Benriach running today.

 

1994

Benriach launches its first ever single malt

Having previously been used in blends, Benriach was released for the first time as a 10 year old Single Malt in 1994. Despite being limited to small bottling runs, the expression would begin Benriach’s legacy of a flagship 10 year old whisky. Even today, when creating our latest 10 year old single malt, Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie took inspiration from the rich, robust character of the original 1994 bottlings we are lucky to have in our archives.

1998

Benriach explores a third style of distillation

In the 1990s, Benriach began making small batches of triple distilled spirit; a tradition we now continue once a year. The third distillation further enhances Benriach’s fruit-laden character, creating an ultra-smooth spirit for this small batch style. Since this moment, the distillery has continued to explore the possibilities of Speyside single malt by creating three styles of whisky; classic, peated and triple distilled.

 

2004

Benriach embarks on new journey under Billy Walker

Having been moved around in ownership deals in the early 2000s and mothballed in 2002, Benriach was acquired by an independent consortium led by Billy Walker in 2004. Production was fortunate to have been virtually uninterrupted and the new owners were able to release a portfolio of both unpeated and peated whiskies in August of the same year.

September 2004

Benriach enhances creative heritage of maturation with new ownership

On 20th September 2004, the newly formed Benriach Distillery Company successfully filled their first cask, adding to the portfolio of eclectic casks left by previous owners at the distillery. This eclectic range of cask types and uninterrupted portfolio dating back to the 1960s set the stage for a decade of rapid growth for Benriach.

 

2012

Benriach celebrates heritage by reopening floor maltings

As the distillery continued to grow, the decision was made to reopen the onsite floor maltings at Benriach for a limited annual production, a time of year we now refer to as Malting Season. Having kept the distillery operational in the early twentieth century, the floor maltings remain one of the key reasons the distillery still exists today.

2015

Benriach is awarded Global Whisky Distiller of the year

Having established a new portfolio of classic, peated and triple distilled whiskies matured in an eclectic range of cask types, Benriach was awarded Global Whisky Distiller of the year by the Icons of Whisky Awards, a huge honour given the smaller scale of the distillery production on the global stage.

 

2016

Benriach is purchased by Brown Forman

Having enjoyed over a decade of growth under the independent Benriach Distillery Company, Benriach was purchased by Brown Forman, an American based spirits company which has been responsibly building fine quality beverage alcohol brands for over 150 years.

2017

Benriach appoint Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie

With over 26 years of experience, Rachel joined Brown Forman in March 2017 as Master Blender for The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. Since joining the distillery team, Rachel has been awarded an honorary degree from The University of Edinburgh, inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich, and welcomed into The Whisky Magazine’s Hall of Fame. During her career, Rachel has sampled over 150,000 malt whisky casks and can intuitively bring together an expression. It is her artistry and expertise we rely on to bring together Benriach’s richly multi-layered single malts.

 

2020

Benriach’s creative past inspires future with distinctive new portfolio

Remaining true to the creative heritage of the distillery, Benriach launched a new portfolio and packaging design in September 2020. The new core range created by Master Blender Dr. Rachel Barrie expresses the best of the North Speyside distillery providing a rich flavour-filled taste discovery for Single Malt explorers wherever they are on their whisky journey. Each expression has its unique flavour story imparted through rich and diverse cask maturation, a fusion of distillation styles and a wide range of ages up to 30 years. The design takes inspiration from the original packaging used for the first ever single malt released by Benriach in 1994.

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