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Issue 11 - High hopes

Whisky Magazine Issue 11
September 2000


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High hopes

Maisha Frost discovers a new collection of whiskies that resurrect the Bennachie name

A trawl through past triumphs has led The Bennachie Scotch Whisky Company to usher in the century with a major collection of mature malts based closely on the originals.

The Bennachie name has not been seen widely for over a century, so the move to undertake such a wholesale revival is a rare and bold one. But bullishness is a quality that has always been associated with Bennachie (pronounced Ben-ar-hee), whiskies which have known ups and a couple of downs over the years.

The Scotch was first made illegally in Speyside by William Smith at the Nether Jericho Farm in the shadow of the Bennachie mountain. The water came from the nearby river Jordan, so called by the locals because of its alleged healing qualities. Smith had no concerns about excise men spoiling his business. Formidable Jock, his bull -– long of horns and short of temper -– saw to any unwelcome intruders. However, after one law enforcer was spotted bonding with the beast by feeding him oat cakes, Smith decided to go legal in 1824.

Fire forced the distillery to close down in 1900, although the brand was briefly revived, unsuccessfully, in the 1990s. A group of businessmen bought the failing concern, quickly acquired a taste for the original product and decided to develop it big time.

The group remains anonymous. “They want the whisky to do the talking,” says the spokesman and marketing director Bernard Bosher. And talk it did to 25,000 testers before the collection was finally launched.


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