Scottish whisky: How locations shape whisky brands, as shown by Ardbeg Traigh Bhan Batch 4 and Benromach partnership

Many whisky brands focus on their location, when it comes to detailing tasting notes and character – and there are fresh additions that are celebrating a sense of place.

Whisky is, and always will be, synonymous with Scotland. It’s our national drink and the history of whisky is interwoven with the history of the country.

Also to legally be known as a Scotch whisky, the liquid needs to be matured in oak casks, in Scotland, for at least three years. But what do the different regions of Scotland and their characteristics give to their whisky?

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Terroir is a much-discussed topic in the industry, with some saying, for example, that a coastal distillery give salty notes to a dram, whereas others don’t agree that geography does much, if anything, to a whisky.

Last year news broke chef Tom Kitchin, owner and head chef of the one Michelin star restaurant The Kitchin in Leith, suspended two members of staff and launched an investigation amid bullying and assault allegations from former employees.
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Regardless of where you stand on this, many brands lean into their location and are inspired by it to create new expressions.

The most recent of these comes from Ardbeg. Off the back of their record-breaking cask sale, the Islay distillery has released their fourth installation of their Traigh Bhan series.

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Produced in small batches and released year on year, Traigh Bhan Batch 4 is a 19-year-old whisky that draws its inspiration from Islay’s Traigh Bhan beach, known locally as the Singing Sands. The whisky is also bottled under a full moon and, the team say, this represents a change in the tide for the spirit.

To continue the trend of pairing whisky with food – and as a celebration of local produce – Benromach has recently teamed up with MasterChef 2022 finalist Sarah Rankin to create a collection of recipes.

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As well as giving fans a first-hand insight into how she hand crafts her recipes, foodies can now access and recreate Ms Rankin’s Benromach menu, which features several easy-to-replicate dishes featuring two of the distillery’s most popular expressions – Benromach 15 Year Old and Benromach Peat Smoke.

Recipes include Arbroath Smokie croquettes, pork belly with burnt apple puree and a chocolate cherry pot. Of the collaboration, Keith Cruickshank, distillery manager at Benromach Distillery, said: “The recipes are fantastic and it will be interesting to discover how others use our whisky to complement and enhance their own menus.”

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