Since its grand re-opening in 1998, Benromach has worked tirelessly to craft and rebrand a Speyside classic whisky, and every bottle of Benromach now contains a statement to this effect. The stylish rebrand has since developed to create a solid core range of age statements, along with a “Contrasts” range of unique expressions and cask finishes, and then (for the deep of pocket and more matured palate) a “Heritage” range, which contain a specific year/vintage of the distillery’s stock from the 1970s (i.e. before their Gordon & MacPhail take over and redevelopment). We have enjoyed numerous expressions of the Benromach range of whiskies on Whisky Unplugged before – with our first introduction to the distillery via the 10 Year Old and Organic releases and we have also particularly enjoyed the Triple Distilled release and the Chateau Cissac finishes. Courtesy of a Tweet Tasting organised and curated by Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire, we were able to re-acquaint ourselves with the three key releases within the distiller’s core range, namely, the 10 Year Old, the 10 Year Old (100 Proof) and the 15 Year Old.
For our tasting notes on the individual whiskies, click on the following links:
The purpose of this article though is to taste them side by side and perform a compare and contrast to see which of the core range pips the others to the post when it comes to future orders and recommendations.
All 3 samples are delivering up a very similar set of flavours, but the 15yo is definitely putting out a waxy kind of smell and body that the others are trying to catch up with. Albeit, the 100 Proof is just smashing its way through the nostrils and leaving its flavours in its wake. The 15yo seems surprisingly lighter than the 10yo 100 Proof too, and certainly a more delicate and sweeter flavour. That ‘leathery’ note really stands out in 10yo, when compared to the others too, with the alcohol stifling the flavour in the 100 Poof, and the sweetness of the 15yo simply muting it. All 3 drams however are delivering up that sweet stewed fruits and apple pie set of flavours. Delicious.
I don’t think it is mentioned too often, but the texture of these 3 whiskies on the tongue and palette are really different. The 100 Proof, again comes stomping its feet and knocks the others out of the way, whilst the 10yo seems a little thicker, and the 15yo slightly sweeter and more syrupy. I’d have thought that the 15yo’s extra years in the cask would make for a thicker texture, but actually the 10yo seems to be the more oily of the three. That’s not to say that the 15yo is just like a splash of water. It also has a nice waxy texture to it. All 3 whiskies actually complement one another between sips too, with the variety of fruity, woody and leathery flavours all combining well together, with their age and/or percentage just emphasising slightly different elements.
All 3 drams have a pretty punchy finish to them. Clearly the 100 Proof finish with its higher ABV has more of an alcoholic punch to it, but they all have a peppery kick to them courtesy of the oak. The 15yo has the longer lasting finish, with the 10yo being quite abrupt in reality.
It is really interesting to discover just how these 3 whiskies share the same flavours, but they display them all in a slightly different way. Obviously one of the benefits of the 100 Proof is that you can moderate the power of it with the addition of water, and still get an amplified version of the 10yo. It also has helped to appreciate the work of the master blenders who decide the percentage to get the balance between the flavour and power. On the night, the 15yo seemed to have more of a story to tell, but had that menthol meets sourness note which detracted from the whole experience, meaning that the 10yo edged it for, with the 100 Proof taking the lowest plinth on the podium, but is still very much a winner.
Sample disclosure: These three samples were 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 whiskies.