Sep 042019
 

This style of malt has huge appeal for me. I may have used this analogy before in some other context, but a whisky like this is a coelacanth. In other words, a Lazarus. A dead style, come to life again long after we thought we’d kissed it goodbye. That analogy applies both to the distillery and the style. Benromach was Gordon & MacPhail’s first foray into distilling and distillery ownership, while the style is sadly anachronistic in this day and age.*

When G&M reopened Benromach in 1999, after a near 16 year closure, their aim was to produce a 1950s style Speyside malt. You know what that means, aye? Bingo! Peat. It’s a different dimension added to a familiar style, and one that works extremely well against such a rich and robust spirit.

If what I’ve read is correct, Benromach is peating to about 12 ppm. Not high, by today’s metrics, but substantial enough that phenol-phobes will definitely be turning a nose up at this one. Irrespective of the actual numbers, the smoke is an omnipresent entity, weaving its way through all other nuances and flavour notes. And for my tastebuds…it works beautifully. Is the 10 a knock-out? Nah, of course, not. But it is really, really good. And as close to a knockout as you can get at this age and price.

I also want to add that the more mature malts under the new ‘romach regime are already showing signs of being something very special. This is the sort of whisky I want to drink at about thirty years of age or so. I think that’s where it will really shine.

Shame about the 43% bottling strength, but we’ve already harped on G&M’s propensity for these ‘no man’s land’ abv’s, so let’s move on.

43% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: A light smokiness, as we’d expect, knowing what we do about Benromach. Oil lamps. Unbaked pastry shells. Wind over hay fields (I know, I know…settle down, Auden). Warm suede and polish. Orange marmalade and orange juice. Berry compote. Toasted almond.

Palate: Gentle earthy, peaty notes, with threads of clean smoke and toasted oak. Warm leather (horse saddle? And no…I’ve not licked saddles). More orange, vibrant and lovely. Citrus pith and rind. Dusty wood. Hints of corn (think dried stalks, unbuttered popcorn, etc). Vaguely nutty.

Finish: Mid length. Slightly tannic at the back end. All pleasant.

Thoughts: Any day, any time. Adore this style. And not just this style; I adore this dram. One of the best 10 year olds on the market.

89/100

*Yes, I’m aware Ardmore is much in the same camp, though they’ve been consistent about it for a very, very long time, and in this guy’s humble opinion, lack the multifaceted profile.

 Posted by at 2:51 pm
Sep 062013
 

 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.

KWM Benromach Casks (2)

So now…let’s have a go at these two single casks Andrew bought…

 

Benromach 2004 Cask #246 Kensington Wine Market ExclusiveBenromach 2004 (2)

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.

Score:  89/100

 

 

Benromach 2005 (2)Benromach 2005 Cask #126 Kensington Wine Market Exclusive

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.

Score:  89/100

 

 

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

 Posted by at 12:41 pm