In its current incarnation, under the ownership of Gordon & MacPhail, Benromach has been going from strength to strength. Situated near Forres in Morayshire, the Speyside distillery was closed between 1983 and 1997, when G&M purchased it and fully restored it to working order. Prince Charles performed the official opening ceremony of the refurbished distillery in 1998 and bottles of the new distillery’s output began appearing in 2004.

In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to visit on two occasions (it’s a tough job etc) and I have no qualms about recommending the visitor experience OR the whisky to anyone. And since the good folks sent me down some samples, here’s what I think of their core range…

 

Benromach 10 Year Old, 43%, £35

First Fill Bourbon and First Fill Sherry Casks

Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: Oily, very slight briny smokiness and a touch of diesel. Some freshness, like crunchy Granny Smith flesh and underlying liquorice.

Palate: Medium to heavy feel – we’ll say “Extra Medium”. Some of the sharp apple persists with a healthy serving of bitter orange. The slight suggestion of smoke is still there, the diesel and liquorice have refined themselves into more of a cereal, tobacco and spice trio. There’s a hint of tropical fruit at the end as well.

Finish: Longer than I was expecting, and it serves me right! Spicy and warm, almost deconstructs the whole of the previous tasting experience with a pleasant emphasis on minerality and a blunt nutty edge.

Overview:  Great stuff, not even considering rescinding my aforementioned recommendations. Great body, great balance… consider all my boxes ticked!

 

Benromach 10 Year Old 100° Proof, 57%, £50

First Fill Bourbon and First Fill Sherry Casks

Colour: Amber

Nose: Dark chocolate cream and dry ginger, some dank forest notes too. Slight suggestion of linseed at the end.

Palate: Wow, much more aggressive than the regular strength 10yo (in a good way). Thicker, with those bitter oranges taking hold. Green leaf springs from the damp forest and is washed with spiced fruitcake. Somewhere in the mix there is some vanilla (from the bourbon?) trying to make an appearance, but the thick sweeter notes of treacle keep it in its place.

Finish: More than “Extra Medium”… I’ll just say long. Dry and peppery (verging on smoky) with a touch of leatheriness and as rich as you like.

Overview: £10 more than the regular 10 year old, and tenner well spent in my opinion. Even if it proves (no pun intended) too much when undiluted. On trying it with a dash of water, it still stands up!

 

Benromach 15 Year Old, 43%, £52

First Fill Bourbon and First Fill Sherry Casks

Colour: Gold

Nose: Ooooh, sticky and thicker than the other two. A kind of “Greatest Hits”, if you like. The spicy sweetness, engine oil, and residual touch of smoke all appeared before. Just now they’re living together somewhat more luxuriously…

Palate: Waxy stone fruit fruitiness, and a lot of “Eastern Pudding Spices”, I can spot caraway and cardamom for starters… those bitter oranges are also back, and some of them have caramelised skin. More of a rounded smoke experience (more of a “burnt herb haze” than “peat fire in hell” vibe) with this one, but it balances wonderfully with the orange and sweetness of the fruit.

Finish: We’re back to Extra Medium! Almost cordial-like cling, the haze clears and the white stone fruits fade through a more delicate spice meadow. The waxiness is still in play, and it balances everything wonderfully.

Overview: Well, they’re doing something right up at Benromach, the 15yo stands proud with its two stablemates. The best way I can relay my opinion on this is to say that I could happily see myself stroll into a shop, pick up a bottle the 100% proof and gladly hand over my cash – then get home and realise that I’d accidentally picked up the 15yo and think “Never mind, eh?!”

Being quite honest, I knew these whiskies would be good. The 100-proof has been a favourite with the TWL staff for a while now. And I can fully understand why – in certain quarters – Benromach is being fondly compared with Springbank.

As ever, Loungers, you don’t have to believe me! Get out and try some!

Cheers,

Connas