Within the Speyside region, its fair to say that the competition for whisky bragging rights is fairly tough. With all of the different experimentations we’ve seen hitting the shelves in recent years for brands to try and distinguish themselves, there are still some brands that cling to their heritage to sell their wares. Benromach have managed to do both, by contemporary and design but harkening back to their roots. The 100 degrees proof release is an example of just that. This whisky has had the exact same maturation as the regular 10 Year Old expression, but has been bottled at a significantly higher batch strength of 57% ABV – which equates to the older proof rating of measuring alcohol. 100 (degrees) proof is named after the old imperial measure of alcoholic strength by which sailors who wanted to ensure their rum ration had not been watered down, mixed the spirit with gunpowder and lit it. If its mixture ignited (yep sure – just light the gunpowder surrounded in alcohol) then its strength was ‘proved’.
Not surprisingly, the high alcohol content means that the booze instantly wrestles with your nostrils on this one. Behind the tingle, the vapours leave a little trail of fruity zest with apple and orange flavours, followed by a lot of the original casks’ oaky-ness – both the smell of the wood itself and the oaky spices that we’d expect from seasoned casks. The strength of the booze seems to be stifling the senses here, so quickly to the taste test…
Oooh that’s hot stuff. After a quick rip through the tastebuds though, the booze leaves in its wake a series of strong orangey, fruity flavours, along with more of those cinnamon and ginger spice flavours. The spiciness seems to intensify too the longer that the liquid is left on the tongue, with a more intense sense of cracked black pepper, brown sugar and toasted almonds/marzipan. With a little bit of time this becomes really nutty actually. With a pinch of water, the oily texture leaves more of a rum and raisin ice cream profile of flavours.
Firey. That’s the only word for it when drinking this neat.
Well, I do like a boozy drink but this is something else altogether. It was a nice Speyside drop but I think some of the magic was lost amongst the booze. Usually, the higher ABV can bring an extra dimension here, but for me, I really had to seek the flavours out, and regulate that strength with water to my own tastes. Which I’m sure that people do with any strength of whisky, to be fair. I guess, the real beauty of the 100 Proof is that you are getting more of that actual whisky per bottle and can then add water to taste and get it to your own preferred strength – something which is significantly harder to do if you are starting from 40%!! One lasting thought though is that, with the flavours above tailing off under the boozy fire, this whisky lends itself to being paired with some good chocolate – whether milk or dark chocolate, it doesn’t matter as long as there’s whisky!
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.