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How to Drink Benriach with Charlotte Coyle

How to Drink Benriach with Charlotte Coyle

Our guest today introduced me to a job title I had never heard of before – the maltster.  She works for one of the very few distilleries that still floor malts its barley – thus the need for a maltster.

In short, a maltster is a maker of malt for use in brewing or distilling, but Charlotte Coyle goes into way more detail about the maltster at Benriach Distillery

Charlotte is the Brown-Forman UK Malt Whisky Ambassador and sat down to tell me all about the history and the Scotch Whisky that is produced in the Speyside distillery of Benriach, plus what goes on in Warehouse 13.

Watch it on YouTube

Cocktail of the Week: Benriach Boulevardier

Benriach Boulevardier
The traditional Boulevardier recipe transported to Speyside with Benriach whisky and a splash of cherry syrup!
Benriach Boulevardier

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Charlotte. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!

This transcript is sponsored by:

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Susan: It’s really, really great to have you on the show. I’m so excited to talk whisky. It’s one of my favorite spirits and I love Scotland, so I can’t wait to hear all about Benriach and how you got into the business, Charlotte. So why don’t you introduce yourself and I’m sure I will interject with a thousand questions.

Charlotte: Perfect. I’m so excited. It feels like we’ve been really planning this, haven’t we, for such a while, but it’s so good that we finally got together. I’m Charlotte Coyle. I’m actually based up in Newcastle, but I’m from just outside of Liverpool originally, which is where this interesting accent comes from.

I got into whisky from bartending on my way through university. Then I decided to stop doing psychology, which is what I studied, and move over to spirits full-time. I bartended maybe for seven or eight years. Then I actually joined the Brown Foreman team as a Woodford Reserve brand ambassador which is one of our bourbons, which is extremely delicious as well.

I’ve been working on the single malts now for, it’s coming up to two years. I think it’s two years in March. So it’s been really fun. It’s been a journey of learning. Definitely learning new categories and learning different competitor spirits and what my own palette is like. It’s really fun. It’s a really good job.

Susan We’ve had Tom Vernon on the show, so I know Woodford Reserve very well. But what was it you think about being behind the bar, being in a bar that made you want to say forget about psychology, I really want to pursue the drinks industry.

Charlotte: Ironically, because psychology is all about people, it was people who kept me in bartending, really.  I’m quite a maternal and caring person. So I really like the idea of hospitality generally and looking after people. but I’m also really, really interested in the history of spirits and the science behind it.

I think what’s so what’s beautiful about our industry really is that you get to meet so many different people from all walks of life and everyone got into things in different ways and everyone has their own path. I just think that’s really, really an amazing thing.

The second part of that is I’ve always been a whisky drinker, since I was 18 years old. I was always into whisky. My order at the bar was always a Jack and Coke. So refining that a little bit and going towards single malts and drinking neat spirits, it felt like a bit of a natural progression for me.

I love working in advocacy, being able to share knowledge with people who are maybe just starting on that journey or sometimes have been on that journey much longer than I have. it’s just a really nice, reciprocal relationship, .

Susan: Was it hard to give up being behind the bar to be in an office or work for a company?

Charlotte: It was strange because I came into it,  maybe, about eight months before everyone was working from home anyway, the dreaded C word. So, it was interesting because I had to develop a different sort of discipline. I was used to being on my feet all day and arriving at certain time and staying there for eight, nine hours, then going home in the early hours, making sure everything was clean.

You really develop this different discipline of, well, no one is going to call me if I’m not at my desk at home . So it’s interesting to develop that discipline of turning up and putting on your best self and bringing your best self to work, even if you’re just at home speaking to people virtually.

It’s great because my team is amazing. We all work really well together and  being academic anyway, I was quite an academic person anyway. I think that definitely helped me a little bit in that respect.

Susan: Of course, of course. So let’s delve into whisky. when did you start working with Benriach?

Charlotte: So I’ve looked after three single malts within Brown Foreman. I look after Benriach, the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh. Benriach is probably our more approachable spirit, I would say. It’s definitely the one that I give people to get them into a single malts discovery.  I’ve worked on this now for just under two years, which is really, really great. It’s feels like it’s flown by.

Susan: I’m sure and starting of course during Covid. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about the brand itself how it started and how that whisky got into that bottle.

Charlotte: Sure. So, actually it was founded in 1898, so in terms of Scottish whisky, it’s relatively late in the whisky journey of Scotland. It was started by a man called John Duff. Something that I really love about him is that he actually worked on the stills at GlenDronach. GlenDronach. It opened in the early 1800s.

So he was already a Stillman for quite a long time. He had a couple of distilleries in the area. Glenlossie is one that he also had, Longmorn. which now owned by Pernod Ricard. And he opened Benriach as his third distillery. Now a story that I often tell about Benriach is that it closed down 18 months later.

It was opened in 1898 and it closed in 1900. and it was a victim of the Patterson Crash. if any of your listeners aren’t aware of what the Patterson Crash is, it was basically two brothers who created almost like a credit crunch within the scotch whisky industry. They would borrow money from banks, then use it to buy stock and casks from different brands. Then say that they would pay them back at another time and just got themselves into this spiral.

They put a lot of companies out of business. One of my favorite stories about them though, I often refer to them as the original marketeers of scotch whisky. There’s this story that I read about where they bought 400 African gray parrots and taught the parrots to say, “Buy Patterson’s whisky!”  Then gave them to people that they wanted to invest in their business.

Susan: No way!

Charlotte: Yeah. And you can see from that why weren’t successful.

Susan: Anyone out there who’s a marketer, do not try this at home.

Charlotte: Benriach closed again in 1900. It didn’t reopen until the Sixties. Then it’s been owned by lots and lots of different people. Pernod Ricard, Chivas Brothers owned it at one point. Then Brown Foreman bought it in 2015.It was owned by someone called Billy Walker before that, who is an icon really in scotch whisky. He now runs GlenAllachie, which is a really, really delicious brand as well. Then Rachel Barry came into the fold a couple of years after Brown Foreman bought it. And it’s been going strength to strength since we rebranded two years ago.

You sometimes, which I think is quite nice actually, go into a whisky shop and you can see the old branding next to the new branding and all of the core SKUs that we have. So all of the core bottlings…

Susan: Wait. Okay, hold on. Before we get into all that we have to go back for a sec. So it closed down in 1900. Did all of his distilleries have to close or just Benriach?

Charlotte: I’m not sure to be honest. I think Benriach but what is quite interesting is I think that they just left all the stock there.

Susan: We’re coming to that too. So it closed down. Did it just mean that the buildings closed and weren’t used for anything during that time?

Charlotte: What is really amazing about when they did close down and something that as I’m very passionate about history anyway.

Susan: Me too.

Charlotte: Something that is really beautiful about Benriach is, when they closed in 1900, the distillery wasn’t mothballed, it didn’t become a ghost distillery because they basically used it for floor maltings.

If your listeners aren’t aware of what floor maltings are. it’s essentially a really traditional way to create malted barley. So what most people do nowadays is they’ll buy their barley in already malted from what we call a maltster, which is a great job title, I think.

They will have it to their specifications and have it perfect for their whisky. Whereas there are eight distilleries in Scotland that still do floor malting, which is a super traditional method whereby you would buy the barley in and sprinkle it all over the floor. I say sprinkle, but you would be doing like 14 tons at a time!

Susan: Okay!

Charlotte: You basically sprinkle it all over the floor. You coat it in a very, very fine layer of water. Essentially what you’re doing in that process is tricking the barley into sprouting because it thinks it’s time to grow because it’s raining. When it starts to grow, it gets to a point that we would call green malt. So green malt is when it’s ready.

It’s not just the fact that it grows, it’s the fact that all of the enzymes that barley needs to ferment and to create whisky, to create flavor, all of those enzymes are actually growing within the malt. So then once it’s ready, we will essentially put it into a kiln and dry it out. That is where you’ll find people use peat to make peated whisky.

They’ll use the peat as the heat source. but one of my favorite things about the floor malting is not just the fact that we keep it alive as a traditional method. We do it during a period of time that we call malting season. So malting season lasts about six to eight weeks. We do it usually during April to May.

So what’s really great is that it usually coincides with the Spirit of Speyside festival. So if anyone is going up to Spirit of Speyside, get in to see those malting floors in action. You have to have a lot of manpower because you have to have someone constantly turning it. Essentially, what would happen if you were to just leave it to grow is it would all mat together and bits of it would grow at different times because it’s been exposed to the water.

You have to have someone who constantly turns the malt so that you don’t basically get a rug of malt on the floor. That interestingly is where the term “monkey shoulder” comes from. You would overdevelop one muscle in your shoulder from turning it.

I think it’s such a brilliant thing that they’ve kept alive. I feel quite privileged actually to be able to talk about it from one of our own distilleries. It is truly amazing. I think.

Susan: They were doing this throughout, up until the sixties, when they brought back the whisky.

Charlotte: Exactly. That would’ve basically sustained them in order to open the distillery back up. Now I was speaking to our Global Brand Ambassador, not long ago, and Benriach did close again in the late 1990s and reopened early 2000s, and he was part of the team that opened the distillery again, but Ben said we should bring malting floors back.

They actually hired back a lot of the maltsters or the people who had helped them do the malting floors, they hired them back to say, can you show us what to do.

Susan: I love that.

Charlotte: And now that’s something that we continue to do every year. So, it is a special release that we do once a year coinciding with when the malting floors are on. There will not long after that be a release. I think for the last two years they’ve been, maybe the first edition was nine years old and the second edition is 10. I think I’ve got that correctly. but it’s really worth looking out for because they’ll use different styles of barley. Every addition of that is going to taste slightly different, because it’s a different style.

Susan: It’s really particular for that year and the malt that’s on the floor?

Charlotte: And there would be maybe a bigger conversation to have around terroir in single malts. It’s a really interesting way to explore it.

Susan: Of course. Now the other thing that I was going to ask was when it closed down, were there any whiskies from the 1898 to 1900’s? When it closed was anything ever found in a barrel?

Charlotte: I don’t think so. Alright. I would assume that we don’t have hold of it now.

Susan: wondering. It would be very, very old.

Charlotte: It would be amazing if we did. I mean they have a lot of historical whisky at the distillery. They have what they call the archives of the distillery. But in one of our warehouses, I think the oldest whisky they have in there at the moment is 1966. So they’ve got some that has really gone back that they’ve been able to preserve. And from what I’ve heard, it has matured really, really nicely. I don’t know what they’ll do with it, but it’s interesting to go and look up.

Susan: Yeah, absolutely. When they reopened, what was the thinking that they were going to create, many different years or were they literally starting again and 1966 was the first one putting it in a barrel.

Charlotte: So I’m not sure to be honest, because it would’ve been a completely different company then. Seagram owned it at one point, which I was associated as an American company. Chivas owned it. There was lots of different people who had hold of it, so I wish we could look at their thinking and see what they were going to do.

So I think, the earliest that I would properly know is early 2000s. They released where we have bottlings from the 80s where they used to release it along other Seagram’s bottling. So Seagram’s owned a couple of different distilleries and they used to be released in what was called Malts of Scotland.

Something similar to that, where they would just have loads of different, all Benriach, was always the Speyside version because the spirit from there is just so Speyside-esque. It’s just perfect, all the characteristics are apples and pears and honey and it’s a really good representation of Speyside.

Susan: I guess it must be delicious. So, alright, now in the 2000s, what was the first iteration from there and, how did it grow and to what you have now.

Charlotte: So it was opened again by Billy Walker under Benriach Distilling Company, the company name at that time. He is the one who bought the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh and had the three distilleries together under one company. Something that I really love about what they used to do under Benriach Distilling Company is that they were one of the first distilleries who used to release a lot of cask finishes.

So when you look at bottlings from under Benriach Distilling Company, there’s a huge amount of different cask finishes. So they did Madeira cask finishes, dark rum cask finishes, and it was quite, quite rare. There was lots of distilleries doing that, maybe as special releases, but no one doing that in their core range.

So Billy Walker was one of these as well as a couple of other distilleries, one of these pioneers behind actually releasing something really consistently. That was an exploration of cask finishing really.

Susan: You think of that as such a modern thing? And that’s still 20 years ago thinking of that. That’s super innovative, super early.

Charlotte: It really is. And I think when you considering that, I mean Scotch whisky laws are extremely strict. And I mean, I know a couple of years ago they were allowed to do a couple of different cask finishes, whereas at that time they were sort of limited, but lots of people are going to be using at that time, a huge amount of whisky is going to be in ex bourbon casks.

Ex bourbon casks are always going to give you this delicious jumping off point, but just adding those different finishes and bringing those into scotch whisky, I think is a really impressive thing to do because Benriach itself is super versatile. We can talk about the core bottlings that we have at the moment and how versatile they are, but I think as a spirit itself, as the distillate, it really takes well to lots and lots of different casks.

So to be able to see it with this fingerprint of Benriach and this addition of ex bourbon For the majority of its life, but then to see all of these amazing finishes like Marsala Wine cask finishes, and Sherry cask finishes, I think is just incredible and it really shows what the distillery can do.

Susan: Absolutely. Absolutely. So let’s get right into it. Why don’t we start with what’s behind me? The Original, as it’s called the Original 10. why is that the Original?

Charlotte: That’s a really good question. So as we’re talking about the 90s, this comes back towards this. So, 1994 was the first ever single malt release from Benriach. A single malt, if people are new to whisky listening, a single malt is basically a whisky that is made from malted barley and from a single distillery.

So if you were talking about blends or if you were talking about a blended malt or a blended grain, that whisky is taken from lots of different distilleries, then blended together. So we now deal exclusively in single malts. So everything that is released from Benriach now, is all created and from start to finish under Benriach’s roof.

But the Original 10 that was released in 1994 was our first ever single malt. So it had, what I really love about what Rachel has done with this Original 10 that we have now is something that is quite unique about this is that it has a real tiny trace of peat whisky in it. So she will blend it in just very, very slightly.

Some people can really pick it up. Some people really can’t. It really depends on what your palette is used to but that’s something that she’s brought through into this new iteration which I think is just such a lovely way to honor the past, and honor what has come before her. It’s such a great expression and I think it’s really the DNA of Benriach in a bottle.

Susan: It is absolutely delicious. I did a tasting, and yes, I felt that it was a wink to Scotland, the little bit of peat that says we’re in Scotland now this is single malt.

Charlotte: Exactly. And I think it’s really great because as I said at the beginning, it’s super, Benriach is super approachable. You’ll know from tasting it, the Original 10 is really light in its flavor. It’s got apples pears, honey. There’s a slight nuttiness I think in it, but there’s also all of these lemon zests and grapefruits.

I think it’s such a lovely way to get people into whisky. So each of our core range as well, we have three casks in each one and they will change as we go through the bottlings. So the Original 10 has kept those same casks for a couple of its iterations now. We use an ex bourbon cask as we were just talking about ex bourbon casks.

We know that that’s a really good base to balance whisky on. Lots of caramels, Kind of all those quintessential bourbon flavors are still going to be in that cask. We have an ex sherry cask in there, so sherry for me is going to bring a little bit of that nuttiness through. It dries out what could potentially be quite a sweet cask with the bourbon.

Then we add a virgin cask in there as well. So a virgin cask will be American Oak. but it will come straight from our cooperage. It won’t have been used before. And that brings us through a little bit of baking spice, cinnamon, nutmeg sometimes comes through for me. And it’s just so perfectly blended. I love that they’ve kept it at 43% as well, so it’s got really nice ABV, not too high, not too low. It’s just a really lovely jumping off point.

Susan: Yes, it’s a really easy one. Now in the process, I know I read about that you have a four water mash. Can you tell us what that means? What are the four waters and how does

how does that work?

Charlotte: Absolutely. So once we’ve got our malted barley, we need to basically find a way to get all of the sugar out of it. So sugar is going to be really, really important, because that’s when we get to a fermentation process that is going to feed all of the starch and the starch will create alcohol. And that is basically how that process of creating alcohol will begin over 60 hours. If we rewind slightly before we get to that point, we need to release the sugar.

So what they’ll do is they will actually steep the malted barley, almost like a tea is, I think the easiest way to think about it. but they will do it with four different, what we would call four different waters. So, If you imagine it’s all in a vat, they will pour in a first water, which is the coolest one, that the whisky that the malted barley will see.

That will start to release all of the sugars very slightly. They will then drain that, keep that water, they will add a second water, which is slightly higher in temperature. They will leave it to steep. They drain that water and keep it. They add a third water which is, as you can imagine, slightly higher in temperature.

And that will then start to release all, at this point, all of this liquid that we are creating, becomes syrupy. We’re basically wanting to create a sugary liquid, is the easiest way to think of it. So most distilleries or a lot of distilleries will stop after that third water, whereas what we do is add a fourth hottest water, so that, if I remember correctly, reaches about 80 degrees.

So it’s really in that hot temperatures. And essentially what it’s doing by adding that fourth water in is if you can imagine like a wet tea towel, we’re ringing all of that sugar that we possibly can. It’s really making sure that we get the best starting point to making whisky.

That’s what that fourth water means, and that’s why we are really proud of it. And we do shout about it because we’re, I would say, in a minority of distilleries who are actually doing water washing four times rather than three.

Susan: Yes, that’s what I heard. So we got the 10. I know you have in your core range, you have some other numbers. So why don’t you talk me through those.

Charlotte: Sure. So we have a 10, which is the Original 10, which we’ve spoken about. We also have the Smoky 10, we have the 12 and we have the Smoky 12 as well. Would you like me to go through the casks and all of those?

Susan: So you say you have the Smoky, do you just add a little bit more of the peat to the process and that’s what makes it smoke here and you take the Originals of the 10 and the 12?

Charlotte: Benriach is also quite unique because we’re one of the only distilleries that create three different distillates. So we create an unpeated classic Speyside whisky, which is extremely classic to find it. It’s not often that smoky or peated whisky is associated with Speyside

Susan: It’s Islay, right?

Charlotte: Exactly, yeah. So we create an unpeated classic distillate. We also create a peated whisky, which we do during smoke season, which is again similar to malting season, that eight week period. Then we also release a triple distilled whisky as well. So the triple distilled now goes into global travel retail.

So you can’t get it outside of airports. It’s worth picking up if you haven’t tried it . So what we do in the Smoky 10 and the Smoky 12, instead of using that classic unpeated whisky, we will use the peated whisky that we’ve created during that smoke season. So, obviously it takes on a completely different flavor profile.

But what I really love about the peated whisky that we create that I think is quite rare to find, is that we’re using a completely different style of peat from an Islay whisky. So Islay whisky has, I’m a big fan of Islay and a lot of Islay whiskies, that maritime flavor. Lots of different people will get lots of different flavors from that. Now, the reason that that is so different is because peat is basically decomposing matter. not very romantic and it all

depends on where it comes from.

The decomposing matter on Islay is extremely maritime because it’s an island. Right, but when you move over into a what we would term a Highland peat, Highland peat is basically decomposing forest. So, you’ll find that it’s slightly sweeter. It’s more about heather and pine and moss and tree bark and slightly, it’s almost slightly more barbecue in its flavor. You find a little bit of a higher sweetness level to it, which works really, really well with the distillate that we create.

Rachel does blend in a little bit of unpeated whisky in there. but it is majority peated whisky Then we’re again using different casks so we can create this huge wealth of flavor, just by using these two different whiskies that are available to us.

Susan: Yeah. Yeah. Sounds amazing. Now you said you create three distillates, so what is the third?

Charlotte: So the third is triple distilled.

Susan: Yes, of course. You said that.

Charlotte: So usually during our process we will, and you’ll find that most scotch whiskies will use, copper pot stills, which are these amazing, magnificent things in the distillery. And our classic unpeated and our peated whisky, we will run through those still. We will run our distillate through those stills twice now. When you add that extra distillation in to create a triple distilled whisky, what you’re doing through each of those times is you’re basically refining the product. You’re making the flavors more concentrated, and you are refining out anything, that you might not necessarily want in there.

Any oils that you don’t want in there, you can distill them out basically. So for me, when you add that extra distillation, you get almost this boost of light oiliness to it. It slightly changes the texture for me a little bit. And it becomes less about those apples and pears and a bit more about lemon zest and orange zest. It still retains that nice nuttiness, which I think is really important.

Susan: What does that go into? How is that bottled?

Charlotte: So that is bottled it. They actually only release it in a liter bottle, which is really great. I think, if I remember correctly, it’s bourbon casks that they use in that as well.

Susan: And does that go into the 10 and the 12 and some of the older age statements?

Charlotte: It’s kept completely separately. So very similar to the way that we release malting season. That’s all our floor malted barley goes into that edition, the triple distilled is similar. They’re super similar in a way where that’s the celebration of the process.

Susan: Now the other age statements. I’d love to hear how you feel that they’re different to the 10 and what the age brings out of them to make them different.

Charlotte: We have our core range. What I would say is our core and most readily available range is those two 10s. So the Original 10 and the Smoky 10, the 12, and the Smoky 12. We also release a 16, a 21, a 25, and a 30 year old. So to be able to try a couple of those next to each other is really interesting.

What’s quite interesting for me, coming from an American whiskey background, where in Kentucky you’re only going to get a seven, eight year old then that whisky is ready. In Scotland, it’s obviously significantly colder, significantly wetter. so we have this amazing ability to get these really long maturations without having too much interference from temperature.

I mean the hotter something is the faster it’s going to mature in basic terms. So for me, what I really like about what they do at Benriach is not only are they using three different casks in each bottling, so you can really get that huge range of flavor but being able to see it slightly more mature in each different bottling, I think is just really invaluable.

We move away from, let’s say as an example in the Original 10, it’s all about apples and pears and there’s almost a pastry note in there for me as well sometimes. but then when you think about the 12, the 10 versus 12 as an example, you move towards this like Black Forest Gateau, darker berries.

It becomes a little bit more sophisticated. And you get a slight dryness as well, which I think is something that classically comes with aging in a whisky cask. But yeah, I think it’s such a versatile distillery. And, Rachel Barry, who is our Master Blender, one of the things that she often says is that she paints with flavor. So you can really see it between the difference of all of the different whiskies all coming up from under one roof, but the range is just incredible.

Susan: Since you brought her up, I did hear her speak and she talked about this infamous Warehouse 13. She said, “I can play in warehouse 13.”  So tell what happens in Warehouse 13.

Charlotte: Warehouse 13 is a magical place. It’s incredible. So we have quite a few warehouses on site at Benriach. but Warehouse 13 is really where we keep the most interesting casks and the most interesting distillates. So that, as an example, is where those really old casks that we were talking about earlier, they all reside in Warehouse 13.

Rachel has obviously the ability to go in and pick from all of these different casks to create whatever she sees in her mind as being the next amazing thing that comes from Benriach. So it’s an amazing place I feel I’m a huge avid reader and I feel very much when I go into a bookshop that I’m overwhelmed and want to stay in there all day, and I feel very much the same when I go into Warehouse 13, I’m searching out all of the interesting casks and seeing what’s in there. So yeah, it’s an amazing place.

Susan: So, are you allowed to reveal what some of the new things that, or that might be on the horizon that you might be working on?

Charlotte: I probably don’t have that permission, but I feel really proud of one of the latest releases, which is the 16 year-old. So, Benriach the 16 was, I think it got discontinued in 2016, if I remember correctly, around that period of time, it was a real fan classic, like a cult classic for the fans and it was discontinued.

I think it was probably down to a lack of stock or something similar along those lines. It’s been brought back, so it came out just before Christmas. And it’s with, as we think about the effect of maturation, I think it’s just an amazing representation of the distillery. So it’s very similar to the Original 10.

We use ex-bourbon casks, ex sherry casks, and virgin oak casks. There is a tiny trace of peat in there and it’s still 43%. I think it’s just an incredible representation of time at the distillery because it is essentially a copy of the Original 10, but with six years of age. It’s been received really, really well so far. I’m excited to keep tasting it in trainings and tastings and events because I’m very excited when I get that dram in my hand.

Susan: Yes, I’ve had the 10 and I’ve had the older ones. So I’ve had the 21, the 25, and the 30. So I’m going to have to go back and try the 16.

Charlotte: Yes, definitely.

Susan: Is there anything else that we should know about Benriach?

Charlotte: I think for me, it’s just such an amazing distillery and for newcomers to the whisky industry and for newcomers on their single malt journey. I think it’s such a perfect distillery to try because it has everything under one roof. You’ve got that peated whisky, you’ve got the classic unpeated whisky.

You get to try a huge range of casks. You get to try something that’s been floor malted, exclusively floor malted. I think that I love drinking it on its own. I love drinking it over ice. It’s delicious in an Old Fashioned. It’s great in a high ball. I think for how versatile is, it’s sort of a little bit underrated, but I would just encourage anyone to go out and try it. Try and find it in one of your local independent bars or restaurants. You know, it’s sold quite widely in specialist retail shops and in Waitrose. but yeah, it’s really incredible. It’s a great distillery to work for.

Susan: Oh, that’s a really great thing to say. And we love to support distilleries that are great to work for.

Charlotte: Yes.

Susan: Right? We do love that. Now, you gave us some tips, but I always ask for my top tips for the home bartender. So, is there anything special you could add to that other than in an Old Fashioned or over ice?

Charlotte: Yeah. So I actually got asked a really good question the other day at one of my tastings. There is this thing in scotch whisky that people are often a little bit nervous of adding anything to their whisky. A gentleman at one of my tastings the other day said, how would you drink it if you want, try it cold, but you don’t want to dilute it.

What I suggested to him was actually to freeze the glass or to put it in the fridge, especially when you’re drinking whisky and you don’t want to dilute it and lose any of those flavors. Adding a chilled glass is just a really great idea.

Also, one of my favorite things to do is if you don’t want to make a full Old Fashioned, but you want to try a whisky in a slightly different way, doing a light orange peel and just squeeze in the oils over your whisky, so that you don’t add any sugar. You don’t have to add any bitters just to add that extra element to it. Especially if it’s a whisky that talks about orange flavors and citrus notes. I think it’s a really nice way to slightly change your whisky if you want something slightly different.

Susan: Those are fabulous. Great. Thank you so much. Now I always end with asking, if you could be anywhere, drinking anything, where would that be and what would you be drinking?

Charlotte: So I am definitely a classic Highball fan. That is my go-to drink wherever I am. So just probably a Benriach 10 and soda with a lemon zest over ice. My favorite bar probably in the country at the moment is Scotch at the Balmoral in Edinburgh. It’s an amazing whisky bar. If you walk into Balmoral, it’s just on the right hand side.It’s run by some of the nicest people and super knowledgeable about whisky. And I would definitely be drinking a Highball in Scotch.

Susan: I love that. Well, thank you so much for being here. It’s been great talking Benriach

and getting to know you and getting to know the brand a little better. And it will be opened in about two seconds after I leave.

Charlotte: Yes, I support you in that decision.

Susan: Thank you very much. So, we’ll see you soon, I hope.

Charlotte: Yes, hopefully. Thank you so much.

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