Here’s an unlikely whisky to kick off the year’s reviews. This 9 yo Benromach was bottled for Costco, San Diego. Hands up if you knew that Costco does store picks. Well, maybe you all live in more sophisticated places and each Costco in your city has its own pick but our local Costco has no store pick single malt whiskies that I’m aware of—and if any other local Costcos carry any I’m sure I would have heard. This was bottled and hit the shelves sometime in 2020 but seems to have been snapped up. Or so I’m told by Florin (second assistant rhinoceros wrangler at the San Diego Zoo) who went to a Costco there last week to see if any were still available and came away disappointed. He did mention that there was a Sassicaia cask finish Benromach on the shelf—as to whether that’s also a Costco, San Diego exclusive or just one of Benromach’s regular wineskies, I don’t know; but even if the latter that’s already a more exotic selection than is ever available at Costco, Burnsville. On the other hand, does Costco, San Diego carry whole goat?
Benromach 9, 2011 (58.2%; bottled for Costco, San Diego; first-fill bourbon barrel 441; from a bottle split)
Nose: Lemon, brine and a nice lick of peppery, mineral smoke running through through them. On the second sniff there’s some vanilla, some cream but in nice balance with the other stuff. As it sits there’s some mothballs and citronella. Water softens it all up—the citrus and the smoke.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but then there’s a big fruity burst as I swallow with pronounced tropical hints (passionfruit, pineapple). The texture is oily and it’s very approachable at full strength. As it sits there’s a faint hint of glycerin but nothing very offensive. The sweeter fruit expands and pops out earlier and there’s more pepper. Okay, let’s add some water. On the palate water seems to focus the acid; the smoke is more muted here too now, as is the muskier fruit, and the glycerin disappears.
Finish: Long. The fruit doesn’t fully follow through here but the smoke does, turning peppery at the end. Some roasted malt and toasted oak here too. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, this was a very nice surprise. Don’t believe the nostalgists: there is plenty of excellent whisky still being made in Scotland. Now, when the hell is my local Costco going to have a Benromach cask of their own?
Rating; 88 points