Benromach has launched its first single-farm organic whisky.
The Speyside distillery partnered with Auchlunkart Farm near Keith to grow the barley for the latest release in its Contrasts series, Contrasts: Organic single malt.
Benromach Contrasts is an experimental collection comprising whiskies that 'contrast' with its core range. Previous releases have included Peat Smoke, Triple Distilled, and this year's dual release of Air Dried Oak and Kiln Dried Oak. While there have been previous Organic expressions in the Contrasts range, this will be the first produced with organic barley from a single farm.
Benromach was the first distillery to be certified as organic by the UK Soil Association back in 2006. It has been working with Auchlunkart for a decade – the crop that has gone into the new Contrasts: Organic was planted in 2013 and harvested and distilled in 2014.
"We've have this 10-year relationship with growing barley and then making organic whisky once a year," Benromach distillery manager Keith Cruickshank explained in a promotional video for the release. "It was just the provenance of being able to get our own single farm and just to be able to work with the farmer direct... It's great having it so close to the distillery as well, right in the heart of Speyside."
Run by Gordon Morrison (who is Cruickshank's brother-in-law), Auchlunkart Farm is Soil Association registered, powered by renewable energy, and uses co-products from the distillery to fertilise its crops.
Morrison said the farm went organic 18 years ago, driven by a desire to use fewer chemicals and return to a "more natural" method of farming, similar to the way his grandfather would have farmed the same land decades previously.
"Benromach have been very good supporting us and doing the single farm," he said, "so they commit to buying the barley from us and they know exactly where it comes from... It gives us here the reassurance that we've got a home for our crop."
Benromach Contrasts: Organic (46% ABV) is available from benromach.com/shop and from spirits retailers including Master of Malt and the Whisky Exchange (RRP £54.99).