Next up in our original club’s “The Vault Collection” trio was a single malt from the Speyside region. Our guest writer Nikkhil had the following tasting notes to share.
Pour 2: Benromach 10yr 43%
Nose: Red fruits, buiscuity and an immediate waft of gentle peat smoke. Lovely! With time honey ham, lightly smoked apples and sweet meats. Something immediately familiar about this one.
Palate: Lovely sweet sherry notes with the gentlest lick of peat. I’m a sucker for this style and balance. Nice mouthfeel despite the low abv. That irresistible sweet savoury note of a bacon and honey combo! Lots of complexity for a 10yr old and top class stuff. This is just a breath behind the Kilkerran 12 which is saying a lot. Now only if it were bottled at 46% and naturally presented!
With Water and 20 mins rest, lovely notes of coconut, roasted walnuts and gentle spice along with light bonfire smoke.
Finish: Long with smoke that just lingers along with sweet sherry fruits.
Our guessing game to reveal?
This was a class Scottish act and all of us were unanimous on that. There was a tossup between Benriach and Benromach. One member was bang on with Benromach and sure enough it was that. It just proves yet again that if the focus is on quality and if it is followed up with the right decisions in production (local barley, long fermentation times, top quality wood) then it’s very hard not to have a cracking dram on your hands. It is little or no surprise that the distillery is owned by Gordon & Macphail who in my opinion are the finest independent bottlers in Scotland. Keep up the good work!
Nose:Rich sherry with fruit & nut chocolate, delicate spice, green apples, malty biscuit and a touch of light peat smoke.
Palate:Juicy raspberries and brambles, sherry, creamy malt and a light peat
The danger of Whisky Live Singapore is you tease yourself with tempting drams… yet to survive, you have to resist savouring each and every one…
My first swish past the Benromach booth on day 1 was past the prime sampling stage yet left a continued very positive impression and above all – a commitment to return to the delightful Benromach 15 year in another setting.
I returned on day 2 when one of Benromach’s wood finish series joined the mix, more specifically – the Benromach Hermitage (2005/2014) 45%.
It gave the impression of:
Nose – Light, bright, fresh crisp fruits, basil
Palate – Spice, wood, soft fruits
Finish – Bitter, dry with lots of wine tannins
The Hermitage Wood Finish is matured in first fill bourbon casks and is finished for 31 months in casks from the Hermitage Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, in the northern Rhône region of France.
Aroma – Swirl your dram around and enjoy those scents of summer… sweet summer fruits, refreshing red apples, and zesty lemon and lime. A touch of vanilla emerges and cinnamon notes develop, underlined by a touch of peat smoke and a peppermint edge.
Taste – Sweet and bursting with intense fruit… succulent dark cherry and orange, sharper kiwi and gooseberry… and these combine wonderfully with creamy milk chocolate and a gentle smoky edge.
Aroma – Nose your dram and you may detect lime and grapefruit at first, with hints of delicious toasted malt and sweet vanilla with eucalyptus notes in the background.
Taste – At first it’s gently spicy, quickly followed by sweet raspberry and tangerine flavours, and hints of almonds complementing the underlying peat smoke edge. The finish is gloriously long and fruity with a hint of smoke
It would be interesting to try all three wood finishes side by side – Hermitage, Château Cissac and Sassicaia. I’ve contemplated working towards curating a special ‘wood finishes’ tasting session which go beyond the standard oloroso & PX sherry and port finishes to explore other wines and spirits affect on whisky.
While just a teaser, Benromach Hermitage was a welcome first ‘research’ step…
For a distillery whose whiskies I’ve enjoyed whenever an opportunity arises, I have had relatively few experiences conducive to preparing tasting notes. Whisky Live Singapore was no exception.
By the time I reached the Benromach booth on day 1, I was in sampling ‘over load’ and wasn’t about to waste good whisky on an unappreciative audience. When I did manage to take a break, return to sniff, swish and spit of their collection, my scribbles were lost somewhere along the way.
What I do recall though is that the Benromach 15 year 43% stood out as being exceedingly elegant, refined and beautifully well rounded. At the time, I remember swearing to myself that one day I would acquire a bottle to revisit it properly – just on its own – then share it with our Whisky Ladies in Mumbai.
On day 2, out came the Hermitage wood finish which did manage to make it into my new whisky note pad (post coming soon!).
Interestingly, I returned to Mumbai post Whisky Live to a session in which one of our Whisky Ladies chose Benromach 10 year 100° Proof 57% above all other options from her recent trip to Scotland.
Clearly I am not alone in appreciating what Benromach has to offer!
It was recently purchased by one of our Whisky Ladies during her trip to Scotland. She shared how many a dram was sampled before finally settling on this one as THE whisky she wanted to bring back from her trip for the Whisky Ladies in Mumbai.
What did the Whisky Ladies find?
Nose – Sweetly smoky – we’ve found our happy place, clear sherry with hickory wood… like the embers of a campfire in the morning, then bananas, stewed fruits
Palate – Cherry liquor, the peat is back with spice, salty chocolate fudge, vanilla, liquorice, nicely complex with the different elements swirling about with one sip bringing out more of the creamy fudge and another the cherry berry quality then the next sip the sweet spices and another the peat – what a treat!
Finish – A drizzle of honey bacon with dry spices
What did the ladies think?
“Quite a coooool whisky”
“Something new in every sip!”
“The whisky you really want to spend an evening with…”
I had recently revisited several rather fine Benromach whiskies at Whisky Live in Singapore and initially was puzzled by all the peat thinking this was the classic 10 year. When discovered it was the 100° Proof, all became clear we were dealing with quite a different avatar!
Our October 2015 whisky tastings reminded us to go slow, meander through the offerings to let each slowly unfold… we began with the light Aultmore 2000 (bottled by Gordon & MacPhail) and closed our evening with a special 10 year from Gordon & MacPhail’s distillery Benromach.
Nose – Bang!! Baaaaacon! Salty bacon, life buoy soap, then with just a little time, the intensity of the bacon reduces with a waft of fruit, then fresh cut leaves. Was like flipping a book with the nose shifting quickly through different elements. Over time, a hint of spice emerges then mellows back to barbecue bacon – sweet cured meat
Palate – Kashmiri spicy but smooth, not oily, truly amazing with lots of character, a low viscosity, chewy dates, ripe berries, a sense of richness or ‘fullness’, creamy, warms into smoky raisins yum!
Finish – Very long and enjoyable spice, some smoke and a little dry ash with bitter almond
Water – Yes please! A few drops opens it up. Comments like “Fabulous!” “Absolutely fantastic with water!” It became even more rounded and did not lose its character at all. Just a couple drops prompted even more bacon to emerge.
Impressions – Clearly mature and complex! A whisky you want to pour and have a long affair with…. This is to end your day. What is most remarkable is how it just kept evolving… Easily a whisky that you could stretch over a long leisurely conversation with a fellow whisky appreciator, interspersing new observations about the whisky with other engaging topics.
Speculation – One member’s immediate reaction was “Islay!” with its peated robust character. Bantered around the possibility of it being 16 years? Reminiscent of a Glendronach 21 Parliament… Thought the alcohol content likely higher than the previous two (Aultmore 46% & Hellyers 46.2%).
Unlike most of our sessions, we held back the whisky reveals until after we tasted all three whiskies….
The reveal – Only a 10 year from a distillery that once upon a time had somewhat indifferent offerings. Since the Gordon & MacPhail took over, with renewed attention and care, they are now releasing some remarkably good whiskies.
Quote –“I can’t believe this is only 10 years!”
If you read the Benromach story… you come to understand that their interpretation of a classic Speyside is the 1960s version when light peat was part of a Speyside’s character.
80% Bourbon barrels, 20% Sherry hogshead. Final year in first fill Oloroso casks
Nose – It has an intense Sherry nose with heaps of stewed apple, pear and delightful vanilla pod aromas… delicious toasted malt aromas develop and complement an underlying menthol edge.
Taste – There’s cracked black pepper with juicy fresh strawberry and raspberry… hints of orange peel and milk chocolate combine with a delicate smoky edge.
Nose – It’s fabulous, with initial hints of beeswax polish and peat smoke… followed by sweeter aromas developing with ripe banana and kiwi bound together by honey.
Taste – Roll it around your palate and enjoy the sweet and salty effect with ripe banana and blackcurrant flavours. Notice the emerging creamy milk chocolate edge with a long rich finish of lingering subtle smokiness and bonfire embers.