What does that mean, you ask? Well, back then most barley was malted at the distillery and peat was used as fuel when drying the barley, instead of hot air used at many commercial malting sites today and this produced a quite peated whisky compared to todays regular offerings from Speyside distilleries.
Benromach, owned by independent bottler, Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin has successfully revived that style and has worked their was up towards it for some time now, since they acquired Benromach Distillery in 1993 and after a restoration period started distilling there again in 1998.
I've already had the opportunity to try the 10yo version at 43% but wasn't able to take any notes at the time but from memory, the 100 proof 57% version I'm about to review seems quite the more robust dram, not only in alcohol strength, but also in overall flavour profile as opposed to the 43% which seems alot more sweet. 100 proof btw, is an old Imperial measure equivalent of 57% abv.
This dram is quite sherried and I'm suspecting maybe just a slightly bit more sherry cask influence in this one than in the 43% version which supposedly is made up 80% ex-bourbon casks and 20% ex-sherry casks.
|Benromach Distillery Visitors Center, August 24th 2012 © The Malt Desk|
Benromach 10yo 100 Proof 57% (2014), Distillery bottling
Colour is amber
Initial impressions are a lovely mix of dark fruit (sherry) and smoky notes all delivered to your nose by the high alcohol strength of 57% - so just be a little careful nosing this! I'm actually quite surprised at the peating level of this one...
There's lots more in there though - here we go... I've already mentioned the dark fruits, fresh tobacco leaves, mint/menthol and lots of chocolate notes, thinking After Eight mint sweets, but also other kinds without mint - e.g. Danish Anton Berg chocolates Plum in Madeira and regular chocolate covered marzipan bars. Also getting notes of burnt caramel, overripe apple, orange peel on a bonfire and thick malt. Wow!
Somewhat more aggressive on the palate. A good part of the 57%shows itself on arrival, but turns into a dry peat smoke and with sherry showing itself as burnt figs, earthy/dusty floors, overripe/brown banana. It then turns peppery and goes into BBQ overdrive with wood chips, lots smoky meat glace, BBQ rub paprika/chili style.
The addition of water to this drams kills the complexity fairly quickly, but if the alcohol bothers you, then by all means go ahead but I suggest you just let you palate adjust to it and let your mouth produce the saliva needed to dilute this one...
I also find the some wood chips notes present on the finish suggesting the use of some very active oak, maybe to finish the whisky. This prevents me from giving this one both thumbs-up and propelling it to 90p.
There's no denying the fact that this is great whisky and I'll probably be getting myself a bottle before long...
Finally, thanks to Soren from Skjold Burne Vinhandel for the sample!