The opening gambit of the Benromach single malt whisky experience is their 10 Year Old expression. Truly, a milestone for any distillery. Since the distillery re-opened in 1998 under Gordon & MacPhail ownership, the team have worked on recreating “a classic Speyside”. With this in mind, this flagship regular bottling sees Benromach combine their stock ingredients at a proportion of 80% bourbon barrel matured whisky to 20% sherry hogshead. The distillery prides itself on using locally-sourced barley, which is then malted with a little peat smoke – a note that the distillery holds as its calling card amongst the soft Speyside single malt scotch whiskies available. This regular bottling is captured at 43% ABV.
There’s an instant waft of barley sugars as the glass approaches the nose, followed by the smells of sweet apple and properly cooked pastry, which combine into a mouth-watering apple pie. A good fruity nose there actually – apple and oranges in the mix. Heathery floral notes and a little pipe smoke to round the flavours out. AS the complexity unfolds, there are some stronger underlying flavours that remind me of boot leather, beeswax, and oak – just like some high end furniture! In fact, those notes smell like the kind of seat I’d be ideally sitting in drinking this, next to an open fire. Definitely an autumn/winter dram and lots going on!
Stewed fruits and crumble puddings shoot straight to mind as this hits the tongue. This is hitting a home run on the fruity flavours come to think of it: apple sweetness, orange juiciness and lemon zestiness. There’s a nice bit of cinnamon and ginger amongst the pudding flavours too, and the smoke just plays a background note amongst the fruit and dessert medley. Maybe a little grassy flavour and dryness too. It’s all going on. The alcohol really brings a fire to the party as well. A touch of water brings out the bourbon vanilla note too (and takes some of the peppery sting out of the tail end of the dram too)
Quite a punchy finish – peppery and juicy. Gingery too. Quite an abrupt end to the flavour experience once the peppery spice has done its job though. Definitely a lip smacker of a finish and all of the time it is inviting another sip. Barley sugar and cinnamon crusted apple pie push on through and there seems to be more of a woody note here than the nose or palate originally let on.
If this is a classic Speyside, then it is no wonder that the region has so many distilleries in it. For me, the soft body and whole list of flavours, demonstrate a great number of influences all working in harmony. Hand on heart, if I hadn’t have known about the proportions of the component whiskies’ maturation, I’d have stated that there was more of a sherry influence on the whisky. There’s a great depth of flavour and the spices and fruity flavours of the sherry (and the whisky’s colour) all seem to underpin the final product. There are old school whisky notes in there, like the leather and beeswax, but it is all the time balanced by the younger and fresher notes, like apple and barley sugars, which really does just invite another sip. And another. And another. The flavours are all jumping up and down for your attention too, and the smoke just brings another element into the taste journey. To put it another way, there’s a great cast of flavours at work here with no one character taking the lead role, they’re all just bringing their A-game for your delectation.
Sample disclosure: This sample was received as part of a promotional tweet tasting evening hosted and curated by The Whisky Wire. All tasting notes are intended as an honest, independent review of the whisky.