I reviewed the Benromach 10 years old yesterday (here), and thought it was a “bright and vivid dram that harks back to the old Speyside whisky style combining sherry and peat. It also provides good value for your money … and provides a great combination of flavors”. Today’s review looks at the same whisky, same cask combination (80% first fill ex bourbon casks, 20% first fill sherry casks, which then get vatted and finished for a year in first fill Oloroso sherry hogsheads), only presented at the old British 100 proof (Technically 57.15% ABV, rounded off to 57%).
It would seem to be the most obvious idea in the world. Take your really good age stated base expression and just put out a version of the exact same whisky at cask strength. Just think of any of your favorite entry level daily drams, and imagine there being also a standard cask strength edition readily available. Not only does this give the distillery a lot of flexibility in cask management, it also seems like a no-brainer way to increase sales. If you like the 10, you’re likely to also buy a bottle of the 100 proof. As usual, it’s the small family owned firms who lead the innovative thinking.
Benromach has a nice video about the distillery, which really gets the family feeling across:
Benromach 10 Year Old 100 Proof (57% ABV, NC, NCF)
Appearance: Bronze, a lot of drops cling to the glass and roll down slowly.
Nose: Dried fruit (prunes, figs and apricots), malt, light smoke, fruit compote, some stale tobacco smoke and a note of vanilla. With time the dried fruit takes more space on the nose. Water brings out more of the sherry and a light sour note which dissipates and gives the dram wholly over to the sherry.
Palate: Dry, with leather and quite an alcoholic burn, it needs water. Water brings out a lot of spice under a layer of sweet sherry and rather powerful peat smoke and hints of dried fruit. There’s a lot going on here.
Linger: Pepper in the back of the throat, dryness on the palate and sweetness on the tongue. Additionally, you get dry spice in the whole mouth in a very long and satisfying linger.
To me this is the highlight of the Benromach core range.
The sherry is rubust and vibrant on the nose, the peat owns the palate and the spice dominates the finish. It’s like each of the elements owns a part of the dram, and the higher ABV takes a great dram and elevates it to a whole new level.