Not only does Ralfy always try and factor in value for money, in his malt of the year, but he always manages to get it spot on when it comes to quality and with Benromach he has certainly ticked that box.
Back in October 2014 I headed off down to Dublin to enjoy "Whisky Live" but before the show itself I decided to get myself involved in a Benromach masterclass. What we were presented with was a story of tradition, quality, passion and whiskies that are being made the way they were many years ago.
Benromach started life way back in 1898 but was closed nearly a century later in 1983. After being bought by Gordon & McPhail, in 1993, they set about reviving the distillery and recreating a true Speyside style reminiscent of the 1960s.
Since then they have went from strength to strength and hit the heights last year when the 10 year old won "Best Speyside Single Malt - 12 years and under" at the 2014 World Whisky Awards.
During the tasting we tried a good range from Benromach but in honour of Ralfy's award, and also because it is the easiest to get a hold of, I shall review the 10 year old.
The Benromach 10 year old is bottled at 43% ABV and is a combination of 80% Bourbon barrels and 20% Sherry Hogsheads that has spent it's final year in a first fill Oloroso cask.
Nose - Naturally big on Christmas cake with cinnamon, dried fruit and stewed orange. Some tropical notes come through with banana being the most easily identifiable. Milk chocolate, buttered popcorn and warm apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. There's a slight hint of hairspray in here, which isn't unpleasant, and the faintest whiff of smoke.
Palate - Sweet, very sweet. Again, big on the dark, dried fruits. Raisin, mixed spice and dried orange peel. More gentle smoke and nice feel of oak wood. There's quite a kick to this dram but it's not by any means harsh and the orange flavours continue with more stewed orange and chocolate orange.
Finish - Medium length and very enjoyable with more dried fruit and and a, nicely warming, lingering spice.
Overall this is a very good whisky. The passion that was spoke of is noticeable throughout the 10 year old, along with all the other whiskies that were sampled. You can sense that Benromach are taking a huge amount of pride in the whisky they are producing and that can only be a good thing for us consumers. I would have no hesitation in going back to Benromach in the future to continue my education of Speyside and the story they are telling.
One last thing I would touch upon is the value for money aspect mentioned at the beginning of this update. What I am starting to see with most family run distilleries, and most distilleries that focus on craft and tradition, is that they don't seem to charge over the odds like some that are all about marketing, or those that are owned by the big companies like Diageo and, with this in mind, Benromach don't seem to be any different with the 10 year old being available for a little over £30. In my eyes this is a small price to pay for a whisky that exudes so much style and substance. Whilst I enjoy all whiskies, and enjoy sampling from all styles, these quality bottles are most definitely the ones that should be paid the most attention.
Until next time,