Lucky me was one of the few chosen for the Whisky Wires 100th tweet tasting on the 14th Dec 2016, where we were going to be sampling four expressions from the Benromach distillery, reopened in 1998 by Gordon & Macphail after being closed for 15 years. When Gordon & Macphail revived the distillery they had a very particular way in mind, they wanted to produce a spirit that was like the classic Speyside whisky from before the mid 60’s.
Having been introduced to the distillery and it’s new old style malt just a couple of years ago, I was looking forward to trying some more from them. With the four expressions we were to try on the night comprising of the 10yo, 10yo 100 proof, 15yo and the newly released 1973 (with only 52 bottles produced), the night couldn’t arrive quick enough for me.
The first expression we tried was the 10yo..
Nose: Soft smoke, subtle sherried fruits, rasins etc, hint of roasted peanuts, sweet pineapple, after some time a vanilla note comes through with a sweet orange note..
Palate: white pepper, fresh oak, green apples, the sherried fruits has some cherry and raspberry hints underneath, smoke is present but not in your face..
Finish: Quite long with the distinctive smoke and oak to the end..
We then tried the 10yo 100 proof..
Nose: some sherry infused fruits with a hint of berries (raspberrys, strawberries etc) underneath , hazelnut chocolate, sweet spice, vanilla, very subtle smoke..
Palate: The sherry hit is more prominent than in the standard 10yo, baked apples and pears in honey, subtle chocolate, smoke is almost a whisper with a big pepper hit, hint of tobacco coming through towards the end..
Finish: Long with a nice dry spice, sherried fruits are highlighted by the subtle smoke..
Then it was the 15yo..
Nose: Butterscotch, some fresh beeswax, rich creamy fudge/toffee, some sherried fruits but not in your face, the usual soft smoke I like about Benromach..
Palate: a sweet spice note balanced with a some fresh oak hints, a fresh baked fruit crumble (berries, apples, sultanas etc), earthy sweet honey note, subtle pepper note becoming present towards the end..
Finish: another long finish with a big spice hit and a hint of tobacco..
And finally the star of the night the 1973..
Nose: Sweet juicy fruit chewing gum, gooseberries, pineapple, some spearmint, some soft leather after a bit of time, with clementine oranges, hint of fresh cut hay..
Palate: Lots of tropical fruit, kiwi, melon, hint of limes, some beeswax, citrus fruit pith, some oak, such a complex and youthful feeling dram..
Finish: such a long and lively finish with a zesty end you it..
Having reviewed the first two expressions before I was interested to see if they were still as good as I remembered, simple answer is yes. They were excellent and so was the 15yo, I think my favourite out of these three is still the 10yo 100 proof but the best of the night was the 1973. This was something completely different, being nothing like the previous expressions I’ve tried from Benromach. The subtle smoke I’ve come to expect was not present and if I hadn’t been told this was a ’73 I’d have sworn blind it was younger, it was so fresh and lively in such a good way. With so many layers you’d expect from a quality malt but never feeling like you had to fight it to get everything, it’s hard to put my finger on what made this feel so fresh and exciting but what ever it was it worked.
I feel very humbled to have been one of the few people to been on this special tasting and must say a huge thank you to Steve at The Whisky Wire and Benromach for hosting an amazing night.