Benromach has never really been on my radar. I have tried some before, but that’s been years. I liked that one, I think, but for some reason I never decided to put any money in their coffers. Even when I drove past the distillery last summer I didn’t stop there. I was on my way to BenRiach. The other ‘Ben’ with all those high profile releases over the last couple of years.
When I got into whisky, it was the period, if I recall correctly, when they started profiling themselves with those Organic releases, in all kinds of casks (up to Sassicaia), and that also didn’t really feel all that appealing.
Then, when I visited DH17 some years ago to pick up a pile of South Pole Shackleton whiskies which I traded and bottle-shared, they had a ‘very affordable’ Benromach 1981. That went on the wishlist, but as most of the bottles there, it slipped into oblivion until it sold out (I think). Still no Benromach.
Maybe even more remarkable, in some 10 bottle-shares there never was one. Maybe because the indie releases are few and far between, and apart from some American whiskeys I never did a bottle-share of OBs.
Then, last Thursday, on Ruben’s excellent WhiskyNotes, a review of this 10 year old baby popped up. As it happened, I was about to put an order in at Master of Malt, to order my father-in-law’s belated birthday present. Some colleagues wanted me to mule some booze into the country (all perfectly legal, mind) and asked for advice. This seemed a smart buy.
Heavy, thick, and very old fashioned. Leathery, with some beef stew with lots of bay leaf, and other ‘northern’ spices. Quite some oak, with furniture polish and then some fruit comes through. Again, rather northern. Plums with their stones, stewed apples. Some sherry sweetness with more tropical fruit behind all that. There’s a whiff of smoke too.
A lot richer than I’m used to for 43% and 10 year olds. Some slate, oak, smoke, and leather. That’s the first impression. Then there’s some peppery heat, with a slight bitterness from fruit pith. Plums, dried peaches and dates, but also the stewed apples and raisin stems. Furniture polish and waxed leather coats. Sheep in the rain. Rather earthy too, forest floor in autumn.
The finish gives some more heat at first, white pepper. Then it coats your entire mouth with an earthy richness that makes you want for winter and hearth fires. Maybe not very summery, but very delicious. The fruit and oak come later. Pretty long, regarding this is 10 year old, and 43%.
As Ruben stated, the 1960s style can be confirmed. This not only smells and tastes old fashioned, it also smells a bit like my nan’s house when she was still alive. We sat in the dining room drawing on the insides of rice cartons. The potato chips were left overs from the week before.
This is an utterly delicious and one the best value for money bottlings I’ve ever come across. I absolutely love this stuff. And to think a bottle costs only about € 37! Damn.
I still have some trouble believing the richness and flavours of this. I would expect this stuff to be twice as old and thrice as expensive. I think I’d still would have bought it (this is not a hint, Benromach!).
To be honest, if I read a review like Ruben’s I tend to become skeptical, and that was how I started on this dram. I was expecting a nice whisky, but not more than that. Value for money. In the end, I think the 87 points Ruben awarded are selling it short.
Benromach 10, 2014 edition, 43%, available at most half-decent liquor shops, and about € 37 everywhere. You can get it at Master of Malt for that, and I’ve also seen it in The Netherlands for that.
By the way. I’m in no way paid for this review. I wrote it after I opened the bottle I bought. No samples available either. This one I’m drinking entirely. And probably too fast.