The small traditional Speyside distillery of Benromach has announced the second annual release of its rare 40 years old. It follows a similar 2021 release, which scooped the Best In Show prize at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2022. The new edition has been created from a handful of ex-sherry casks selected by Keith Cruickshank, the Distillery Manager at Benromach. It is the distillery's oldest age statement release.
Benromach was founded in 1898 and built next to the Aberdeen-Inverness railway line in Forres. It remains one of the smallest operating in the Speyside region and was one of the last designed by the renowned Victorian distillery architect Charles Doig. It was built as Forres Distillery and became Benromach in 1919, taking the name from the nearby Romach Hills. Benromach is currently owned by Gordon & MacPhail and they renovated it after a period of closure, re-opening in 1998. A recent expansion has increased the annual capacity to 700,000 litres.
The Benromach 40 years old 2022 Edition is bottled at the natural cask strength of 57.6% ABV and is both non chill-filtered and of natural colour. It comes presented in a black stained oak casket with copper trim. There are just 1,000 bottles and these will be available in specialist retailers in selected world market. A bottle will cost £1,000/ $1,200 US.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep amber gold and the nose is exquisite, rich and multi-layered. Caramel and toffee aromas rise first but are quickly joined by candied citrus peel (imagine good quality orange marmalade), gingerbread and some earthy baking spices. These include cinnamon, clove and mace. Underneath are savoury aromas of leather, antique furniture and cigar box.
On the palate this enticing whisky is equally as exquisite, rich and spicy. The bold ABV, which is surprising for something of such age, exaggerates and accentuates the flavours. The orange marmalade/ candied citrus notes appears first this time and is followed shortly afterwards by caramel, toffee, milk chocolate and some crystallised fruits. A hint of baked apple and black cherry compote also sit in the background.
As with the nose there is plenty of depth and complexity evident. Layers of oak spice, baking spice and savoury notes compliment the sweeter and fruitier characteristics. Toasted oak, hazelnut praline and walnut mingle with gingerbread, cinnamon biscuits, liquorice root and clove. These notes give a wonderful warmth and drag the whisky towards the finish. Leather and cedarwood are also evident, as is a late drop of citrus oil and distant whisp of gentle peat smoke.
The finish is long and warming with a late peppery kick. The sweet and fruity elements fade slowly and this allows the oak and baking spices, along with the savoury characteristics to come to the fore. A late hit of black cherry and orange oil adds to the delight.
What's the verdict?
This year's edition of the Benromach 40 years old is absolutely exquisite. This was distilled before the most recent closure and whiskies from this era are particularly rare. As a result you have to pay the price. That said, £1,000 is not bad for something of this age compared to offerings from competitor brands.
The whisky is deliciously rich with a multi-layered depth and complexity. The bitter orange and distinct caramel sweetness are beautifully complimented by the warming oaky and baking spices. Underneath is the hint of Benroamch's signature gentle peat smoke and those delightful savoury notes. A simply sublime single malt.