Last week’s theme was peated whiskies from Islay’s south shore. The week got off to a good start with a young Laphroaig and picked up with the 2017 release of the Lagavulin 16 and then had a disappointing end with the 2020 release of the Ardbeg Uigeadail. We’ll stick with peated whiskies this week but move off of Islay and go all the way up to the Speyside, to Benromach.
Benromach is a rare Speyside distillery that is known for its peated malt, which is made not as a one-off, as at some other distilleries, but as the norm. I’ve reviewed a few recent Benromach releases in the last couple of years and have generally liked them all a fair bit. This includes Batch 04 of the Benromach Cask Strength, which was an 11 yo distilled in 2009 and put together from a large number of bourbon and sherry casks. Batch 1 was also 11 years old and also put together from bourbon and sherry casks, though I’m not sure how many went into the vatting. Unlike subsequent batches, this was released in the US. Will this sample make me regret not paying attention at the time? Let’s see.
Benromach 11, 2007, Cask Strength Batch 1 (58.2%; sherry and bourbon casks; from a bottle split)
Nose: A mix of smoky (ashy, slightly rubbery), sweet (charred meat, dried orange peel) and earthy (chocolate, coffee grounds) notes. With time the rubbery notes burn off, leaving char and the sweet, earthy notes behind; some milky cocoa too now. A few drops of water and the milky cocoa expands; quite a bit of apricot emerges as well to join it, along with some salt.
Palate: Comes in hot with the smoke leading the way and everything else behind. Decent texture. The smoke is that mix of ashy and slightly rubbery on the first few sips and then there’s some pipe tobacco. Becomes a bit more approachable with air in the glass but this is still too hot. Ah yes, water is very good to it. It brings out more of the pipe tobacco and the apricot that shows up on the nose is here as well.
Finish: Long. The savoury and earthy notes build here. Slight sherry separation. The smoke comes back at the end. The sherry separation resolves with time. As on the palate with water and then at the end there’s a fair bit of milky cocoa (with a bit of ginger in it).
Comments: Well, this is nice enough but I didn’t like it quite as much as Batch 04. No regrets for me.
Rating: 86 points.