KWM Exclusive Benromach 2004 & 2005
A few months back, our mate Andrew Ferguson put out a call to a few of the faithful. He had in hand a few cask samples of younger Benromach, and an eye to picking the next Kensington Wine Market exclusive. Over the course of an evening’s tasting, the gang came up with not just one winner, but a couple of them that seemed to be a cut above the rest. In the end, with a little nudging, Andrew opted to purchase both of these casks.
Can’t say we’re not spoiled here in Calgary.
Benromach is a Speyside distillery, owned and operated by Gordon & MacPhail. G&M, in case it is triggering some sort of tickle in the back of your mind, is known first and foremost as one of the industry’s leading independent bottlers. The acquisition of the Benromach distillery, which had been sitting in a state of suspended animnation for years, took place in 1993. This distillery is one of the few phoenix acts now risen from the ashes of the rash of distillery closures in 1983. The first official Benromach releases under G&M arrived in 2004, and despite an output of less than 150,000 litres of new make spirit per annum, the brand is growing. Might have something to do with the fact that the juice is surprisingly good.
So now…let’s have a go at these two single casks Andrew bought…
60.4% abv First Fill Bourbon Barrel 9 y.o. 258 Bottles
Nose: Vanilla cream with a light dusting of cinnamon. Orange sherbet. Sweet bread dough. Caramelized crème brûlée notes. Faint, but very clean, toasted/smoky note. Very light fruits. Maybe pear or melon or something.
Palate: Now a little barley up front. Orange again, but with a little lemon too. A nice soft light fruitiness again is lit up by a slow-building spice. There’s a quick bit of cocoa at the front, but it’s fleeting. Very clean, but long, linger.
Thoughts: One of the more successful young non-peated whiskies I’ve found. Not far off the recent Auchentoshan Valinch 2011 release in terms of overall profile. Great cask selection.
60.4% abv First Fill Bourbon Barrel 8 y.o. 245 Bottles
Nose: Lightly peated. An especially pleasing chocolate top note. A little bit of BBQ sauce. Touch of char. Just a wee little bit of wood and dirt…natural and pleasing. The peated malt shows through nicely. Quite smoky.
Palate: Chocolate covered cherry right up front. Into peaty earthy notes and farmy grains. Much smoke. More oak on this one than its sibling. A little marmalade, but otherwise not a lot of fruit here. Having said that…it’s not really missed either. Wait…a slight (oh so slight) banana note right at the back.
Thoughts: Says ‘lightly peated’, but there is more of that smoky heft than I thought there would be. M0re earthy and elemental than the 2004. Again…a well chosen reaping. Great age for this one. Vibrant and young.
Overall thoughts: Altogether different malts, but about equal in terms of overall quality. No need to split hairs when it comes to scoring these young Speysiders either. 89 points apiece will do, I think. The nose on the 2004 is just a touch better, while the palate on the 2005 wins out. Finally…at just over $80 a bottle…a steal, while they last.
– Words & Tasting Notes: Curt
– Photos: Andrew Ferguson