Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review - Benromach Hermitage 2007 Vintage

This whisky is the latest expression to be released in the Wood Finish series from the small Speyside distillery of Benromach.  The Hermitage 2007 Vintage has been initially matured in ex-bourbon casks for six years before being transferred to casks that had previously held red wine from the Hermitage Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in the northern Rhône region of France for 31 months. Benromach is located on the outskirts of the town of Forres in the north of the Speyside region and was founded in 1898 under the name of Forres Distillery.  It was one of the last designed by the renowned Victorian distillery architect Charles Doig.

The distillery became known as Benromach in 1919, taking the name from the nearby Romach Hills. The current owners are Gordon & MacPhail, the large independent bottling company, who are based in nearby Elgin. They took control in 1993 and fully renovated the distillery as it had been closed for the previous 10 years. It was re-opened by Prince Charles in 1998 and the current annual production capacity is just 500,000 litres per year.

"At Benromach we work with some of the world’s most exclusive wineries to carefully select casks for finishing. The Hermitage 2007 Vintage gives our customers the opportunity to experience classic Benromach with a twist."
Keith Cruickshank - Distillery Manager at Benromach. 

The Benromach Hermitage 2007 Vintage is bottled at 45% ABV and is available through specialist whisky retailers and via  The recommended retail price is £40.25 per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold with a hint of amber and the nose has a lovely and immediate mix of sweet and spicy aromas - think of toffee, caramel, nuts and cinnamon especially.  Underneath are further aromas of black treacle, raisins and dried figs plus hints of earthy peat smoke, gingerbread, mace and clove.

On the palate this whisky has plenty of sweetness up front and this is most reminiscent of honey and golden syrup.  Then come notes of warming wood spices and earthy peat, which compliment the sweetness well.  These include cinnamon and baking spices, plus gingerbread and gentle smoke.  Additional notes of caramel, black treacle and dark dried fruits add further depth and complexity - imagine raisins, sultanas, figs and a hint of candied orange and lemon peel in particular.  Towards the end a malty and slightly burnt toffee characteristic evolves giving the whisky a late bittersweet twist.

The finish is of decent length and maintains a good balance between the sweet, spice and smoke elements.  As the golden syrup/caramel-like sweetness fades, the whisky becomes drier and smokier.  It is the earthy peat smoke characteristic that last longest.  Very nice.

What's the verdict?
The Benromach Hermitage 2007 Vintage is an enjoyable whisky and one with plenty of character for one of a relatively young age.  It is also one of the better red wine cask finished whiskies that we have sampled recently, which can be a bit hit or miss in our opinion.  Here the Hermitage cask compliments what is already present in the whisky, rather than overpowering everything.  Also great value for around £40.

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