Benromach Contrasts: Peat Smoke 2012-2021, First-Fill Sherry Hogsheads, 46%

Benromach Contrasts is a series of whiskies from the awesome Speyside distillery that showcases a specific element of whisky making, which they then have changed from their regular releases. To put things in contrast, so to say.

So far there have been four different versions: Peat Smoke, Organic, Triple Distilled and Cara Gold Malt.

The first one is much more peated than regular, organic is organic, triple distilled is also quite obvious. Cara Gold is a type of malted barley that is normally used in brewing and not so much in whisky making. I was under the impression that I had reviewed that on this blog already, but it appears to not be the case.

Back to this one. Apart from being far more peated than the regular expressions, it also matured in sherry hogsheads. In itself nothing out of the ordinary, but it is a thing that is noticeable about this dram.

Image from Whiskybsae

Ah yes, this screams Benromach. There’s such a typical combination of funky notes and sherry. Big, dark, dried fruity aromas backed up by a very typical bunch of big barley and oak notes. According to the label there should be peat too, and it’s not absent. It’s just far less pronounced than I anticipated for something labelled ‘Contrasts’.

The palate packs a bit of a black pepper punch. There’s a soft oakiness, with date paste, dried apricots, hessian, chocolate spread, mulch and cigars. A very gentle highland smoke is present as well. The sharpness diminishes a little after a while but it still a rather fierce because of its youth.

The finish continues down the same line but is a bit drier, and less sweet. The oak and hessian are a bit more forward compared to the palate.

There’s multiple sides to this whisky. First of all, it has the problem that all affordable Benromachs have. It has to compete with the awesome 10 year old. Then, there’s the bit where this would contrast to normal editions by focusing on the peat more than regular. I don’t really think they’ve pushed that far enough. As said, there’s some smoke but I wouldn’t describe this as a stand-out peated dram.

Apart from that, it is a very tasty whisky. So for drinking and enjoying purposes it does everything very well. But on the ‘look at this being different than what we normally do’ it doesn’t.


Still available in various markets at highly varying prices.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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