One of my great regrets from our trip to Scotland in 2018 is that while on the Speyside I didn’t stop in at Benromach. I hope to remedy that at some time in the future when international travel will be less complicated. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve had from the distillery since it was taken over by Gordon & Macphail—their brand of non-phenolic Highland smoke is very nice indeed. Which is not to suggest that I’ve tried so very much of their whisky. But I really liked this 9 yo bottled for Costco in San Diego; and more to the point I really liked this 8 yo bottled for the Whisky Exchange and this release of the Benromach Peat Smoke, More to the point because like those latter two releases this one—distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2020—features sherry cask maturation. In this case it’s not a single cask release (like the TWE bottle) or exclusively from sherry casks (like the Peat Smoke). My understanding is that it was put together from 29 casks, some first-fill bourbon and some first-fill oloroso sherry. The colour of the bottle would suggest the sherry casks had more to say. Let’s see if that’s borne out in the glass. And no, I’ve not had any of the previous batches of the Cask Strength (I believe this was the first release in this bottle design). None of these have come to the US as far as I know. I hope that will change.
Benromach Cask Strength, Batch 04 (57.2%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Charred oak, barbecued pork, sweet pipe tobacco. As it sits the smoke gets meatier and there’s a hint of something that was once alive now decomposing in wet undergrowth. With time there’s some dried orange peel and then quite a bit of apricot. A few drops of water and the citrus brightens and melds with the apricot; quite a bit of toffee now and some milky coffee.
Palate: Comes in with the meaty and sweet notes in the lead. Remarkably approachable at full strength with a rich texture. The smoke builds as I swallow. The oak expands a bit as it sits, and the pencil lead from the finish pops out earlier, but the sweet and meaty notes are still dominant. With more time still the sweet notes oscillate between charred pork and toffee and there’s some dark chocolate; the fruit from the nose doesn’t quite make it through here. Water pushes the smoke and oak back and brings out the citrus (orange).
Long. The smoke continues to build getting ashy as it goes; there’s some graphite/pencil lead too now. More char with time and the orange peel from the nose finally shows up. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I don’t know what the vatting formula was but the sherry casks are clearly dominant. Anyway, this is very good and I wish it were available in the US. These notes were taken from the third pour from the bottle. I look forward to seeing how it develops with more air in the bottle.
Rating: 88 points.