Top 20 Whiskies of 2020

#3 • Benriach The Smoky Twelve

Benriach The Smoky twelve bottle shot
  • Rank: 3
  • Year: 2020
  • Score: 94
  • Price: $65
  • ABV: 46%
  • Style: Single Malt
  • Place of Origin: Scotland (Speyside)

Benriach is a sleeper of a single malt, but that’s about to change. Part of a 2020 relaunch of its core line, this grabbed our attention with its sophistication, breadth of flavors, and lovely refinement. Much of the credit surely goes to master blender Rachel Barrie for creating a smoky whisky that both peat lovers and the peat-wary can enjoy. Rather than medicinal intensity, the peat is redolent of gentle, sweetly smoky fruits that integrate seamlessly with notes of vanilla, toasted almond, chocolate, blueberry, and bacon. It beckons like the wafting smoke of a warming autumn bonfire, then welcomes with its lush and velvety embrace. —Jeffery Lindenmuth