Monday, 19 January 2015

Benromach - 10 year old - Review

From the moment I first became interested in whisky I, like you all, have used the internet as a great resource to learn from and, from following "ralfystuff" on YouTube, I always enjoy getting to the Christmas period when Ralfy reveals his "malt of the year".  Last year was no exception and I was pleasantly impressed when he tore the paper away to display a shiny box of Benromach 10 year old.

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,



Friday, 16 January 2015

Celtic Cask - Ocht - Review

Hello there and let me begin by wishing you all a very happy New Year.  A touch late I know but I better late than never.  In honesty though, I've been a little absent over the last month as I took the festive period to truly unwind and spend quality time with friends and family, as I hope did all of you.

Not to worry though, with all that relaxation I had plenty of time to enjoy a lot of all things whisky and have plenty to be writing about as we move swiftly through the first month of 2015.  Furthermore I fully intend to crank this whole blog up a notch or two and look forward to expanding and pushing myself on to bigger things.

For now though I'll jump straight in with something new and Irish.

Roughly this time last year I typed out a review highlighting a latest release from The Celtic Whiskey Shop, which is based in Dublin City Centre.  That review looked at a bottling from their very exciting "Celtic Cask" range - the Celtic Cask Sé.

To recap the Celtic Cask Sé was a 22 year old, single malt whiskey that was born in September 1991 and bottled in November 2013.  It was double distilled and came from from an unnamed distillery that normally practices triple distillation.  The cask, number 1916, came to the company courtesy of the increasingly awesome Teeling Whiskey Company and was finished, for about 4 months, in one of their Anima Negra wine casks.  It was bottled at 46% ABV and another interesting note was that the initial spirit had been distilled from crystal malt, which is more commonly used in brewing to add colour and body to ales.

Back then I suggested that the spirit itself came from Bushmills but now I'm completely certain.  

Fast forward a year or so and here we have their brand new Celtic Cask Ocht.  The Celtic Cask Ocht, at 23 years of age, is quite simply the same whiskey as Celtic Cask Sé but with a year or so longer in the fantastic Anima Negra cask.

Further information provided, for the anoraks amongst you, told us that the cask was 225 litres, made from French Alier oak and the wine, it held previously, was in the barrel for 20 months. 

When I received this sample I did wonder how much more influence the extra year was going to put into the whiskey and I looked forward to getting stuck in as I had really enjoyed the Celtic Cask Sé.

Without further ado here's my notes:

Nose - Deep red and black fruits, blackcurrant, strawberry and redcurrant.  There's a lovely buttered nuttiness running through this which is creamier than I recall in the Sé.  Ripe banana and Christmas spices.  Some menthol and a hint of peppermint.  Deep dark chocolate orange.  In the background you do get a slight sense of age with some dusty citrus lemon and orange coming through.

Palate - As with the Sé, this is a huge juicy arrival.  Tons of rich red fruits which are extra sweet with the malt.  Light clove spice and some red apple.  Dusty leather comes towards the end with rich orange.  Drying towards the very end with more creaminess throughout.

Finish - Lightly spiced red fruit that drys and lingers wonderfully.

Overall this is still a big red fruit beast of a dram!!  Fantastic berry flavours run throughout this whiskey as it has clearly taken to the cask extremely well.  The Ocht for me is every bit as good as the Sé and then some.  What I found surprising with the Ocht is that it displayed a layer of creaminess, that wasn't obviously apparent to myself in the Sé, and this has easily added an extra dimension to the whole experience.  

As with the Sé this is not a heavy sherried style whiskey but is beautifully light and fresh for 23 years of age.  The Bushmills spirit works wonderfully when treated with the respect it deserves........COME ON BUSHMILLS, SORT YOURSELVES OUT!!!

The Ocht comes in at roughly £170 compared to roughly £150 for the Sé and for me if you're willing to spend £150 you may as well throw in an extra £20!!  

Yet again the Celtic Whiskey Shop have pulled out all the stops to bring us high quality Irish whiskey that's been finished to high, high standard!!

Well there you have it, the first review of what promises to be a fantastic and exciting year.  I hope you all stick with me for the journey.

As always I've thrown in a few relevant links below for you to peruse at your leisure and if you fancy another look at my review of the Celtic Cask Sé you can do so by clicking right here.

Until next time,



Celtic Whiskey Shop -

Celtic Whiskey Shop Facebook -

Celtic Whiskey Shop Twitter -