Distilled in Speyside since 1898, the Benromach Distillery is a curious brand of whisky. One that is steeped in history with tales of family ownership yet the visual look of the bottles make it feel a bit like a startup. With that in mind I wanted to find out if the liquid matched the history or the look of the bottle giving you the Benromach range review.
‘Time-honoured and traditional’ is how Benromach describes their whisky process.
Although this is at odds with the on-bottle copy in a relatively youthful, hand-writing-esque font although I do really like their ‘tear-drop’ style graphic to denote the water of life.
Other interesting quotes from The Benromach Story include details such as having their ‘three distillers orchestrate every second of the distillation process’ and ‘making whisky by hand’ which are heart-warming nods to the traditions of whisky creation that I always have a soft spot for.
How would you classify Benromach whisky? A single malt with pre-1960s Speyside character: beautifully balanced with a light touch of smoke.
This distillery was actually brought back to life by Gordon & Macphail five years after starting a complete refit starting in 1993 following ten years of inaction and dust gathering.
Mash tuns: 1, Stainless steel mash tun capable of holding 1.5 tonnes of mash
Wash backs: 4, 11,000 litre larch wash backs
Wash stills: 1, 7,500 litre charged steam heated wash still
Spirit stills: 1, 5,000 litre charged steam heated spirit still
Benromach’s annual output is between 150,000 and 250,000 litres of cask strength whisky.
They talk about core values:
The result? Lets see.
For this range review I sampled the:
Benromach 10 Year Old
Benromach Peat Smoke
Benromach 10 Year Old 100% Proof
Dram One – Benromach 10 Year Old
Matured in 80% Bourbon barrels, 20% Sherry hogshead. Final year in first fill Oloroso casks.
Nose: A bold sherry nose with hints of chocolate, light spices and a light hint of peat smoke.
Palate: Fresh raspberries, creamy, light peat and maybe some charred oak.
Finish: Medium length that hint of peat smoke remains.
Overall: Nice, sippable, not as much body as I’d been hoping for but still really enjoyable.
Dram Two – Benromach Organic
This whisky is certified Organic from start to finish, meeting rigorous UK Soil Association standards for growing the ingredients, distillation, maturation and bottling.
Nose: Malty, vanilla from those virgin oak casks, maybe some banana.
Palate: Peppery, sweet fruits, hints of coffee, vanilla again and citrus fruits.
Finish: Long, smooth, chocolate.
Overall: Now I did not know what to think about this one prior to trying it, the bold ‘organic’ statement led me to the pre-conception of it being for the alternative drinker, the one who looks up energy efficiency scores and whatnot. But the reality is that it stands up on its own and rightly so.
Dram Three – Benromach Peat Smoke Matured in first fill oak bourbon casks, this 67ppm is a cracker.
Nose: Vanilla, honey, tobacco notes.
Palate: Pepper, strawberries, lingering smoke complemented with citrus with underlining fruit.
Finish: Lingering smoke with cigar tobacco.
Overall: Yes! Who knew that a whisky with a balance of fruit and smoke could work so well? A really enjoyable whisky.
Dram Four – Benromach 10 Year Old 100% Proof
Now we’re talking. Same as the 10 Year Old but bottled at 100% Proof vs. 40%.
Nose: Boom, there’s the sherry nose I’d been expecting, hints of vanilla, menthol undertone – really interesting.
Palate: Fresh berries, black pepper, milk chocolate, citrus peel all wrapped in a delicate smokiness.
Finish: Lingers, bonfires and smokiness.
Overall: Really enjoyable, much more impressed with the power on this vs. the ‘standard’ 10 Year Old.
A great range, surprising in places with the Peat Smoke and 100% Proof my favourites, Peat Smoke edging it if I had to pick a favourite. Still cannot quite get on board with that font though… but that’s the only fault I can find in a range that will really satisfy a wide variety of whisky drinkers.
Thanks to Gordon & Macphail for the samples.
Also published on Medium.