Posts Tagged With: Benromach

Tasting Notes: Benromach – Chateau Cissac

Benromach – Chateau Cissac

Speyside’s Benromach have been rapidly expanding their range of whiskies available in recent years, with a solid core range and then seasonal additional releases. One area that has particularly piqued whisky enthusiasts’ interests is their experimentation with different cask influences via their “Wood Finish” series within the “Contrasts” range – see notes on their Triple Distilled release here. This limited new release has been initially matured in ex-bourbon casks and “is finished for 25 months in hand-selected casks from the illustrious Château Cissac within the Appellation Haut-Médoc Contrôlée in South-western France” (to use their own words).

45%ABV

 

Nose

M; Bonfire smoke straight away. A lovely dry smoke & then followed by red fruits – the other way round to a usual smoky dram, when the smoke usually comes last. The smoke reminded me of that smoke you get in German smoked sausages or smoked cheese or any of the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier range (but in whisky form, obviously).

 

Taste

M: It is smoke and fruit in equal parts upfront. Blood orange and oaked red wine.  The toasty smoke intensifies with the booze on the way down.

 

Finish

M: The red berries fade and the smoke peters out and leaves a drying red wine kind of finish.

 

Verdict

M: The more I’ve tried whiskies that have been stored in old red wine barrels, the more I’ve liked them and this is no exception. This is a really rich and fruity whisky that has been coupled with Benromach’s signature smoke, which seems to be more intense in this whisky than in others of theirs, which I guess must have been amplified by the wine casks. There were a lot of flavours at play here and this is definitely one for savouring over time, and definitely fits our current seasonal move into autumn. Sold by the spiel, I may also have to try and find some of the wine itself, but for now, I’ll stick to the whisky.

Benromach Tweet Tasting


PS Many thanks, as ever, to Steve Rush and Benromach for the @TweetTastings via @TheWhiskyWire for the samples and spreading the joy.

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Tasting Notes: Benromach – Triple Distilled

Benromach – Triple Distilled

Speyside’s Benromach have released some of my favourite whiskies of late. Their Organic release and their now flagship 10yo display a great balance of fruit, oak and smoke. When I had read that they were releasing a triple distilled edition, it left me wondering how the third distillation would affect the flavours and profile of their whisky, so I was thrilled to take part in the The Whisky Wire’s Tweet Tasting. The Triple Distilled release sits within Benromach’s “Contrasts” series of releases, which all see have been produced with a distinctive difference to at least one aspect of their standard whisky creation (including the different “Wood Finish” releases – which I will come onto in a later post). The Benromach Triple Distilled, and is available now for £45 RRP.

50% ABV

 

Nose

Very pure/clean. Barley upfront. Soft fruity smells – apricot & papaya. Vanilla and oak. All of these initial smells remind me of Kellogg’s Just Right. After a bit of time there’s a ginger smell and delicate smoky back. Lots going on here.


Taste

Delicious vanilla custard tart at first and then BOOM the 50% ABV (which the nose was not giving away at all) hits you. A few more sips to acclimatise and those vanilla and fruit flavours return.


Finish

It’s a boozy one to begin with and the sweetness fades first and leaves a delicate, classic Benromach smoke.


Verdict 

Given that this whisky was bottled at 50% ABV and has been triple distilled, then I was expecting it to resemble the distillery’s 100 Proof release with a more Irish whiskey finish. In general, the fellow tweet tasters thought that the extra distillation might have removed some of the distinctive character  that Benromach display, but for me, I thought that they had largely remained in tact but where their smoke finish had been taken away slightly, it had been replaced with with a smoother, softer finish. The nose, taste and finish all carried the fruity flavours across, whilst the alcohol, oak and smoke all had to take their turn. The nose really didn’t really let on that the whisky was at a relatively high alcohol percentage, but it soon made itself known one taste and finish, and as the booze burned away some of the more delicate fruity flavours it did let the smoky flavours reveal themselves towards the end. I don’t want to get too wrapped up in it, and too many things these days have a “journey”, but this was a really enjoyable dram that took me on bit of a boozy ride with lots of aspects and places of interest along the way.

 

M

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Single Malt Scotch Whisky: Your Starter For 10

It’s probably fair to say that one of the most intimidating aspects about drinking single malt whisky is the price associated with it. It’s one of the things that can make it elitist and can put a lot of people off. To play devil’s advocate though, if you were paying rent on a place for at least 10 years, you’d probably want a decent return on selling part of it, and that’s what distilleries need to do to earn their way. It therefore follows that the older the whisky, the more investment the distillery has put into their liquid and the higher the income required. There’s also a certain prestige that comes with age and, at a nice round number, that’s why the 10 year old of any distillery is usually their opening staple.

What does a 10 year old whisky represent? Well, for those who enjoy the odd wee dram, it’s the first step to discovering the distillery’s main product. With a 10 year old, you’re going to find out the whisky’s key characteristics: is it heavy or light; is it smoky or not; does it actually taste nice? This is true of any ‘core range’ whisky that a distillery has to offer but, as a rough rule, the 10 seems to be the magic number that shows off their potential or even their best offering.

Starter(s) For 10

Starter(s) For 10

Putting these points together, a 10 year old is most likely to be the cheapest single malt that a distillery has to offer. To us, this means that the 10 is often the one that is most readily available in the shops or in the pub, and as such is your gateway to discovering single malts.

One of the best places to start is with one of the most recognisable names in single malt: Glenmorangie. Powered by successful advertising and sponsorship deals, Glenmorangie is found in pretty much every supermarket and pub and, to be fair, for good reason. The Glenmorangie 10 is an example of a decent, creamy all rounder. It has a nice, satisfying body whilst still having that distinctive whisky burn/rasp. It is certainly a simpler tasting whisky than most with predominantly caramel-like flavour and texture, but, on some days, that can be exactly what you’re looking for and so it’s a good one to have in the arsenal and certainly one to start exploring whether or not whisky is for you.

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old - The Original

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old – The Original

Personally, the Aberlour 10 was the first single malt that I’d ever bought, and that’s largely because it was £20 for a bottle in the supermarket. Of the more readily available whiskies it is certainly a great starter for 10 as a lighter all rounder. It’s a slightly flowery and nutty dram that has a pretty smooth finish. It may just be down to personal experience and fond memories but it is a good place to start and appreciate the difference between a clean single malt and the cheap, rough stuff.

Aberlour 10 Year Old

Aberlour 10 Year Old

On the other side of the spectrum is the Laphroaig 10. Anyone who is starting to discover single malt whisky will quickly come across this bad boy. The first thing that is striking, before you even get to the liquid itself, is the rather alien looking word and it’s distinctive black and white label on a green bottle. Pronounced La-froyg, it instantly displays elegance and class and has a mysterious, cult like feel. And why is that? Because when you open it: BOOM!!! The stuff is liquid dynamite. Amongst the peatiest/smokiest drams out there, it packs a unique punch that will stay with you forever. (I could go on and on about Laphroaig and the other Islay peat monsters – see also Ardbeg 10 – but I’ll save that for another time). Out of their entire range, the Laphroaig 10 is the distillery’s key player and will probably become your regular tipple if peat becomes your passion.

Laphroaig 10 Year Old

Laphroaig 10 Year Old

Similarly Talisker 10 is also a great opening gambit. As with Laphroaig, the Talisker 10 is a regularly available malt and, being from the western islands off Scotland, also packs a smoky punch, but with a totally different character to Laphroaig 10. It is widely recognised that your palate becomes more attuned to tasting whisky when you have 3 different whiskies next to one another and it is certainly worth having a nip of Laphroaig and Talisker back to back to get your taste buds in tune to what lies beneath the smoke. Talisker has a smoother edge whilst still delivering smoke and has a distinctive coastline saltiness, which is the brand’s key feature and makes it surprisingly more-ish.

Talisker 10 Year Old

Talisker 10 Year Old

What can be daunting about getting into single malts is that there is a lot to choose from. The big money backing of Diageo behind their ‘Classic Malts’ range is certainly populating the local pubs with more variety, and the Cragganmore 12 and Glenkinchie 12 that sit within that range are also a good base for getting to discover what you like. Also, for the smaller, independent distilleries, the 10 year old is the landmark expression that represents a decade of effort and anticipation that gets their name on the shelves (the Benromach 10 and the new Bruichladdich Laddie 10 being fine examples of that).

Whether or not you agree with the large commercial businesses getting involved (which is another article for another time) you cannot deny that the increasing range of choice can only be a good thing to the enthusiasts and beginners alike and it certainly seems that a distillery’s first double digit dram is the best place to start and maybe even dwell on your whisky voyage.

M

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