This article originally appeared on Gastronomical's facebook feed 4th May 2017. The Gastronomical was a guest at this event.
Dramnation and Brown-Forman AU brought a very special guest to Australia last week - Stewart Buchanan, Global Brand Ambassador for BenRiach Distillery. I was very kindly invited to meet him and join a group of whisky lovers in a small tête-à-tête with this iconic man. Let me just say that BenRiach holds a very dear place in my heart.
Although I had not tried it properly before this evening, a bottle of 20 year old BenRiach was left to me by my late father, who always tried to encourage me to broaden my spirit adventures by letting me sniff and taste the wonderful bottles he brought back from around the world. The bottle had been opened by him, of course, for collecting drams wasn't really a thing for him back then, but it is special that I can now share and appreciate this dram with him somehow.
Stewart is lively like most Scottish people, with a huge heart and a gorgeous demeanour and also a deep passion for his brand that is evidenced by his longevity in the company. Formerly an electricity linesman who fell into working in the production side of the distillery by accident, Stewart was eventually chosen by Billy Walker to represent the distillery around the world. At the talk, Stewart was honest with us about his feelings about the Brown-Forman purchase of BenRiach. Whilst the concept intrigued him when he first heard the news, Brown-Forman's approach to increasing the resources available to BenRiach without interfering significantly with how they operate has meant that those at BenRiach are excited by the opportunities the purchase has presented to them such as immediate access to amazing fresh bourbon casks in a time when casks are increasingly hard to find. Secondly, yes, they anticipate being able to release Glendronach 15 in the near-ish future. It is not going to be gone forever.
The first dram we tasted was the lovely Glenglassaugh Revival which is a first-fill bourbon cask and my first OB dram from this distillery. With its unique microflora in the region, you have hard mineral aspects tempered with sweet ice cream soda characteristics, with a sprinkle of pepper on the palate that reminds Stewart of licking a 9V battery!
Next up, the delicious BenRiach cask strength at 60.5%. Although the name of the distillery sounds quite harsh, it is surprising that the palate is floral spice and delicate with a beautiful change mid palate that took me quite by surprise.
We finished up with the Ol' Reliable, Glendronach 12 from a distillery that needs no introduction and is so universally loved.
Hosted in Pocket bar with the lovely Dániel Molnár and his crew manning the drinks, we were treated to a refreshing BenRiach 10 whisky sour on arrival, as well as some very tasty bar snacks from the kitchen. The rear banquettes were replaced with luxe old velvet couches and armchairs, lending a lovely openness to the event as well as some old-style charm. Needless to say, this wonderful Scot fit right in with the decor.
Thanks again to Dramnation, Matt Wooler and Stuart Reeves for the kind invitation to what was such a wonderful evening. Working through these photos, I could hear Stewart's Scottish accent regale me with endless stories.
I earnestly wish I could slideshow the last 5 photos!
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