Nov 202017
 

Benromach is a distillery you just adore. Traditional to the hilt, nothing there is computerized, with that quaint old style of Speyside whisky. So yes, if I had to choose two distilleries to bring back the floor maltings to, Benromach would be the second, but you can’t really hold that against them¬† ūüôā

There’s also interesting stuff coming out of the distillery beyond their core range, both in a slew of single casks released for shops mainly across Europe, and in yearly releases of wine finished expressions.

This expression is a limited release, 8 Year old and fully matured in first fill bourbon casks. Benromach has a stated goal of experimentation and expansion of skills and abilities to employ new processes and this release is an embodiment of that principle. There are some 15,000 bottles in the release, though I’d venture to bet that there are also runs from later vintages.

I’m known for not having a great affinity for triple distilled whisky, and have, thus, approached with caution. I was positively surprised, as the peat was crisp and clean, and the first fill casks definitely add character.

 

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Benromach 2009 Triple Distilled, Bottled 2017 (50% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, legs are rather quick, with residue and a lingering necklace.

Nose: Fire fed with pinewood, resin, malt, green apples in the background and the water in a can of sweet corn. There’s a hint of brine and honey once the whisky is left in the glass for a while.

Palate: Gentle, with peat and a fruity sweetness, and a citrusy bitterness. At 50% it also doesn’t feel watery or overly diluted, and that seems to be the right strength for this single malt.

Linger: Pepper and a bitter tang, atop a layer of sweetness and peat smoke. The spice is very dominant on the linger from the second sip, leaning towards chili pepper, with the peat being pretty dominant in the mouth. After some time, there are notes reminiscent of white wine.

Conclusion

Lacking the musty note so often associated with triple distilled whisky, the peat is very dominant. With a nice compliment of spice and bitterness, this is one triple distilled whisky I actually like. In fact, I think the triple distillation brightens up the peat, making it crisper and more pronounced.

Aug 042016
 

Sassicaia is a Bordeaux style dry red Italian wine, and I’m delighted that we’re seeing more and more of these red wine finishes, as I really do like them. The Sassicaia is a ‘super Tuscan’ wine, a term that denotes wines made in Tuscany from grape veriaties that are not native to the Italian region, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Specifically, Sassicaia is the brainchild of¬†Incisa della Rocchetta, who started making it for his family consumption after founding Tenuta San Guido, and only began to sell the wine in the late 1960s. The wine gets its name from the Italian word for stone, sasso, which comes from the rocky fields used to plant the vines, very much like the vineyards in Bordeaux.

Tenuta San Guido Photo Credit: bindella.ch

Tenuta San Guido
Photo Credit: bindella.ch

Benromach came out last year with another batch of the two wine finishes: The seventh incarnation of the Sassicaia and the third of the Hermitage (to be reviewed in the near future) wood finishes, both of which work quite well with the spirit.

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Benromach Sassicaia 2007-2016 (45% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Rose tinged, thick legs coming off a necklace.

Nose: Bit of a youngish touch with cereal, berries and some hints of floral ash. The wine imparts a light fruity sourness. As it opens up, more of the lovely red fruit comes out.

Palate: Here’s the peat, with a generous heap of spice. Feels dry on the tongue, with some fizz to it.

Linger: Long and dry, with spices all over the mouth and the top of the gullet. Yet that oh so Kilchomany ashy note is there, with a serious lingering note of sweetness.

Conclusion

This finish works quite well with the spirit, and the combination of¬†the peat and wine gives an ashy feel to it…

Aug 202015
 

So we’re coming off three raving reviews on the Benromach 5, 10 and the 10 Year Old 100 Proof. I’ll recap them by saying that the 5 year old (reviewed here) is an excellent dram, ¬†is age stated¬†and¬†fairly priced with a depth of flavor and an excellent finish (especially if you like bitter notes). Both the 10 year olds (reviewed here and the 100 Proof here) are crackers that hit all the right notes.

Photo Credit: catswhiskerstours.com

Photo Credit: catswhiskerstours.com

Recently, a new 15 year old hit the market and I’ll complete my review of Benromach’s¬†revamped core range with a review of it.

Now this is an entirely different beast to the 10 year old. Mostly¬†sherry matured whisky, some of it in heavily charred casks, which would impart an extra softness to the whisky, and much softer peat due to the longer maturation, this is a much more classic soft and gentle Speysider. I want to be clear about one thing – this is excellent whisky. It’s well crafted, well made and very drinkable. So now you’re expecting a “but” and you’re right: But it’s not the 10 year old. I think the best way to describe it is “less intense”. Not as peaty, not as sweet and not as spicy as the 10 year old. This is a softer, gentler very sherried whisky, aimed at a more “traditional Speyside” whisky drinker. It has its very own¬†character in the lineup.

Photo Credit: whiskyintelligence.com

Photo Credit: whiskyintelligence.com

Benromach 15 Year Old (43% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, legs are quick with residue remaining on the glass, and slower legs roll down from residual droplets.

Nose: First thing you notice is the relative lack of peat compared to the 10 year old. There’s a lot of sherry, hints of cherry soda, coconut and a very light peat which appears in the background. As it opens up, the sherry asserts itself with fino like notes, so definitely not very sweet.

Palate: Not as sweet as the 10s, with some bitterness straight up, there’s pepper, but it’s not as spicy as the 10. This is a soft dram that’s very gentle on the palate. Definitely a sipper.

Linger: Sweet notes on the tongue, very light spice high in the back of the throat, tangy – borderline bitter – sherry notes in a short to medium finish.

Conclusion

Whoa, only five years of maturation separate the Benromach 10 and the 15, but it seems more like two decades .

This is a whole different profile of whisky. Much less intense, it’s rather gentle, bordering timid. Great whisky, but not groundbreaking.

Is it possible that a higher ABV would turn on the headlights on this one? I’d love to try this one at 48%….

 

Aug 192015
 

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:

So on to our tasting:

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

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.

Conclusion

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.

Powerful stuff!

 

Aug 182015
 

Last year, Benromach revamped their core range lineup and the 10 year old was relaunched (or repackaged) together with a new 10 year old at cask strength (to be reviewed tomorrow) and a whirlwind of attention rose around the got a lot of attention, especially from the geeks. There were also all kinds of prizes, but those are, honestly, not really interesting if you’re not part of the marketing department or of the panel.

Photo Credit: Benromach.com

Photo Credit: Benromach.com

There is, however, a good reason for that. The new (or not really new) version hits upon all the right notes, with lot of flavors coming through from three specific elements: The peat from the malting process (Benromach sources its malt, so it’s probably not kilned but sprayed), the first maturation (80% bourbon casks and 20% sherry casks), and the year long finish in first fill European oak sherry hogsheads.

I didn’t taste the old Benromach 10, so the best I can do is bring you Michael Urquhart describing the dram, it sounds pretty much the same (definitely the same process):

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Benromach 10 Years Old (43% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, thin and slow legs with residue.

Nose: Malt, sherry and some light peat. There’s a sherry sweetness with dried fruit and some new leather, toasted dark bread and a hint of peat. There’s also a hint of some fresh leaves and instant coffee with milk (is this Michael Urquhart’s chocolate note?).

Palate: Sweet at first, then spicy with a mixture of dark fruit jam with smoke and a light fizz on the tongue. There’s also black pepper and some chili pepper there too.

Linger: Pepper and peat all around, with a note of smoky bitterness. The linger is rather long leaving a tingle on the inside of the cheeks with notes of coffee.

Conclusion

This is 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, priced at ¬£35/‚ā¨40, it’s competitively priced with other entry level whiskies, and provides a great combination of flavors.