10th December 2014
We were invited to take part in the Benromach tweet tasting. After seeing plenty of tweets about the samples coming in, I was starting to get really worried that I was going to miss out, but as luck would have it, Tuesday afternoon the postman came with my precious samples.
So what were we tasting? Benromach 10, Benromach 100% Proof, Benromach Organic and Benromach Peat Smoke.
So enough talking, let’s get tasting! First up:
Benromach 10yo – 43% ABV
Matured for 9 years in 80% bourbon casks and 20% sherry casks, then finished for a year in sherry casks. Available at a cost of £33.83 from Master of Malt, here.
This starts out with creamy, sweet vanilla, soft toffee and ripe bananas. There’s with a slight hint of BBQ sauce, honey, smoky bacon and fresh green olives bringing a fresh grassy note. Then there’s rich sherry with fruit & nut chocolate with delicate spices, juicy raisins, plump sultana’s coming through with plums and green apples, then just at the back a note of applewood smoked cheese, which gives a nutty note. There a gentle malted biscuit note and the smoke for me is gentle and sweet, before A quick sharp burst of lemon appears from nowhere, leaving an oily brine with paprika zing. For me it the paprika carrying the smoke throughout the dram.
Toffee right away, vanilla sweetness is crème brulee with that wonderful burnt sugar note, slightly bitter but the sweetness from the vanilla carry it on. There’s sweet honey, and smooth milk chocolate, languidly melting on your tongue. There’s pineapples and some blackberries and apples with a toasted pecan crust before we are taken back to the savoury! Tuna steaks over a camp fire with damp ash and wet sand. Salty from the sea but a sweet note from the hickory/bbq smoke before delicate apricot becomes replaced by drying Brazil nuts and tannic oak and the heat carries on with pink and green peppercorns, the gentle paprika and a touch of chili, bbq beans and fishing nets.
Sweet, rich, smooth. There’s a lovely dirty, earth quality and wet soot also. Dry yet still sweet. It’s treacle thick with a lovely oily quality, Fantastic.
Benromach 100% Proof – 57% ABV
Named after the old Imperial measure which followed a tradition established when sceptical sailors, who wanted to ensure their rum rations had not been watered down mixed spirit with gunpowder. If the mixture ignited, its strength was “proved”. Available at a price of £46.45 from the Whisky Exchange, here.
Beeswax polish, soft apples and good quality milk chocolate. There is soft honey drizzled over baked apples with raisins, vanilla poached pears and some banana. There’s warm leather, with a touch of marzipan and then a great big Christmas hug from the sherry wades in bring dark fruits, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and some ground spice. There are dark, sticky molasses and (what I can only describe as) the dry, tannic smell of an empty T-bag box, with just a little touch of menthol.
There’s a nod to the floral with heather before some sharp cranberries and rich oranges too which give way to a bit of Ribena blackcurrant sweetness, and dried strawberry roll. The menthol giving way to pepper and still the vanilla lingers on.
Sherry coming through with raisins, plums, damson and a hot kick of pepper. There are good quality cocoa dusted chocolate truffles with just a trace of resin. There’s charred oak and hickory smoke bring a salty edge with a dash of black pepper. The creamy milk chocolate and strawberry and raspberry, with the banana that seems to run through the range. Then meaty, salty, marmite notes come in and completely spin this on its head. Fruits make a return with Kiwi fruits and then menthol takes this in a medicinal direction, think Benylin before they changed the recipe.
Sweet and salty, with a creamy smoothness. Milk chocolate coats the palate but the salty, savoury note is still there, with a gentle lingering smoke and embers.
Benromach Organic – 43% ABV
Matured in virgin oak casks, this whisky is certified Organic from start to finish, meeting rigorous UK Soil Association standards for growing the ingredients, distillation, maturation and bottling. Unique on launch in 2006, it is still very rare today. Distilled in 2008 – Bottled in 2014. This is available from The Whisky Exchange for £37.25 here.
So different from the 100%, lovely floral notes calling to mind a meadow in spring, lavender and Parma violets, buttery pastry and some soap. Grapefruit, lemons and watermelon coming through, with a lovely malted milk biscuit note underpinning the floral. Vanilla and toffee, like good quality ice cream with a shot of espresso.
There’s desiccated coconut and milk chocolate, like a snowball (marshmallow inside, chocolate outside then rolled in coconut), with red apples, juicy pears before the tropics come in with some mango and warm honey drizzled pineapple with a touch of mint. Before rich cereal notes and vanilla pods bring a creamy mouth feel.
Red apples, juicy pears and some mango with warm honey drizzled pineapple and a touch of fresh mint, then rich cereal notes and vanilla cream, vanilla sugar and toasted brioche. This is still somewhat floral, and some may say FWP, but in a great way. There is some chili spice and again some dark chocolate.
The finish on this is curious, it wants to be hot but it is so sweet that the heat just can’t get the purchase it needs to take your breath away and instead just gently coats your mouth with creamy, warm flavours. This is a real winner for me.
Benromach Peat Smoke – 46% ABV
This unique Benromach Speyside whisky is only produced in very small batches. The finest Scottish barley is malted with high levels of peat smoke at 67ppm and is then matured in first fill oak Bourbon barrels. Distilled in 2005 – Bottled in 2014. This is available at £37.84 from Master of Malt here.
Wow, who took my toffee apples and kicked it through the damp bonfire! Wet sooty ash amid creamy sweet burnt toffee. Then a fresh, tart, lemon zing with a lovely BBQ note, which for me has run through the range mostly.
There’s apricot cheese, Vanilla pods, bananas and pancakes with pipe tobacco. I love the salty tang of the sea spray and good quality smoked bacon! There’s lemon and thyme wrapped around silky almonds, oranges and nectarines.
I was surprised to find plum sauce first, then a meaty bbq steak, with a honey glaze and tinfoil wrapped, fire pit cooked, smoked sweet potato followed by palate cleansing lemon sorbet and a pinch of aniseed. Then cracked black pepper meets a lovely ashy texture, which is almost gritty on the tongue. Before it becomes too drying digestive biscuits bring the cereal sweetness back in and with it some fruits. Cooked apples, strawberries and orange oil, with some cigar smoke. The sweetness lingers on and is joined with grape juice and fresh melon. There’s some love hearts in there, giving an effervescent tingle on the tongue.
Lovely damp oak, fresh pencil shavings and citrus oil. The peat is gentle, ashy and soot like with cigar smoke that almost encircles the glass.
What an amazing tasting, I don’t often fall in love but when I do, it’s all encompassing. I loved everything I tasted, not just liked, love! The price points are excellent, you can pick up some amazing whiskies at (mostly) under £40. I can’t believe that I haven’t come across more of the range before now (although Stewart pointed out he had already given me a bottle of the Peat Smoke as a present) a hazard of a well-stocked whisky corner. There were a lot of tasters on this TT and I think it’s fair to say all were impressed. If you can impress a TT of about 20 whisky geeks you must be doing something right!