By Ben Kelly
Benromach is the smallest distillery in Speyside. It has endured a troubled history, with a number of ownership changes and having gone dark a number of times since it was founded in 1898. It most recently shut its doors in 1983, and was brought back from the dead by Gordon and Macphail, who purchased the distillery a decade later. It finally reopened in 1998.
I was fortunate enough to stop in at the distillery on a tour earlier in the year and I was quite impressed at the professionalism of both their tour and the tasting that followed it — due in no small part to the quality of the spirit on offer. The burgundy finish was not on the tour tasting list, but having manhandled a bottle with intent in the shop I was offered a dram and was immediately sold.
It has a beautiful rose gold hue. The nose is a shy (they say delicate), but with a little encouragement opens up to reveal stone fruits and smoke. It has a lovely buttery viscosity to it and though it has an ABV of 45%, none of the harshness you might expect from a
younger spirit. There was a faint hint of straw upon first taste, immediately mellowing to a sort of sweet toffee. The finish is peaty with a faint hint of bitter chocolate.
A couple of drops of water opens the nose (although it seems not to hang around). I detected marzipan and glazed cherries. The water dispels the viscosity of the undiluted spirit and has fruit notes that were not so readily apparent on first tasting. The finish is smoky with floral notes.
I’d have enjoyed this one a lot more had there been more in the nose, but nonetheless it’s a lovely little drop and worth having in the cabinet. It’s a discontinued line now, so if you do come across a bottle, think twice about passing it by.
UK residents will be looking at between £30-35 for a bottle.In the USA, expect to part with something in the order of $65-70. This was a limited edition with a 1,620-bottle run, and at the present time Benromach has no plans to make a second release.