Sunday, January 18, 2015
Review - Benromach '100° Proof' 10 years old
Benromach is the smallest working distillery in the Speyside region and is located in the town of Forres. Only three people are employed there and the current annual production capacity is just 500,000 litres per year. It was founded in 1898 under the name of Forres Distillery. It became known as Benromach in 1919 and the current owners are Gordon & MacPhail, the leading independent bottling company, who are based in nearby Elgin. They took control of Benromach in 1993 and fully renovated the distillery. It had been closed for the previous 10 years and was re-opened by Prince Charles in 1998.
The Benromach 100° Proof is bottled at 57% ABV and is available from selected specialist whisky retailers. It is presented in the new contemporary packaging, which was introduced to the range last year. This packaging features a new bottle shape and robust copper box, both of which are influenced by the stills at the distillery. A bottle should cost £45-50.
Our tasting notes
The colour is a deep golden yellow and the nose is fragrant and punchy. The initial aromas are of hard caramel sweets, toasted nuts and a whiff of earthy peat smoke. Underneath are further aromas of green apples, gingerbread and a hint of candied orange peel. The combination is very promising.
On the palate the whisky is hot and peppery with the high ABV packing a punch. There are plenty of caramel and toffee notes, which give a delicious sweetness and a creamy feeling once the alcohol settles down. Underneath is a distinct nuttiness (think of almonds in particular) and warming notes of gingerbread and toasted coconut. The candied orange and green apples (this is more reminiscent of dried apple now) from the nose are also present. The soft, gentle peat smoke is evident and adds an earthy depth and complexity. A late hint of cloves and star anise has a similar effect.
The finish is long and the smoke really comes to the forefront. The sweet caramel and dried fruits fade slowly to leave the earthy smoke and warming ginger and clove spices. The addition of water brings an extra creaminess to the mouth feel and more sugary notes.
What's the verdict?
This is a real cracker and well worth checking out. The regular 10 years old expression has long been one of our favourite whiskies and a great all rounder. It won our 'Whisky of the Year' prize in 2009 and this 100° Proof is an exaggerated and punchier version of the original. The balance of sweetness, fruitiness and gentle smoke is superb. Excellent.