This is one of these whiskies that I’ve seen on shelves at shops like The Old Pipe, ages ago. Back then Benromach wasn’t a popular distillery so I didn’t really have it on my radar, but either palates have changed or ‘I’ve grown’, which ever is more likely.
Benromach is now one of the more interesting Speyside distilleries for me. It’s generally known for a rather old fashioned character and a stunning 10 year old ‘entry level whisky’. This Rare Malts is from way before that. From before Gordon & MacPhail reinvented the distillery and the brand, back when Diageo reigned in the Forres distillery.
If anything, the Rare Malts are known for both high quality, and high alcohol, although back then they didn’t instantly sell out. How things have changed!
Let’s see if this oldie is any good. Reviews on Whiskybase aren’t great, but I try to not let that influence my tasting notes and final ranking.
Decidedly old-fashioned, with Benromach already being an old-fashioned style distillery. Funky, with some yeast, lots of steeped barley and a good helping of oak. Good quality oak, I might add. Some dried mango and apricot, a whiff of tobacco.
Another gentle arrival, but this one quickly builds up to some chilli heat. Not too much, though. Some dryness starts coming through, with oak, leather, barley. Flavors of funky dried fruit come through, the too-old stuff. Leathery tobacco leaves, dried mango, papaya and apricot.
The finish goes full on for the ‘old style’ stuff. Much more funky than before with yeasty, overripe fruit and leathery tobacco leaves.
What a dram! If this would have been the regular quality level of what Benromach turned out before they shut down, I really don’t get why that ever happened. It does what Benromach does very well, with a slightly clunky spectrum of scents and flavors. It does work so well, though!