|Picture: The Whisky Exchange|
Benromach released a new single cask from the mid-seventies when it was still owned by DCL. Tonight I'll be sampling their latest warehouse gem: A Benromach 1975, a malt that slumbered for 41 years in an ex-bourbon cask.
Since Gordon & Macphail took over Benromach Distillery in 1992 or 1993 (sources vary on the year), they have been going rather strong. Their 10yo cornerstone single malt gathered a stellar reputation in recent years. In fact, some will say this is the Speyside malt you should taste instead of the big guns like Glenfiddich and Aberlour.
And yet, reviving Benromach was a close call. The distillery was one of the many victims of the Great Distillery Massacre in 1983. Other legendary names such as Banff and Saint Magdalene were far less fortunate. Gordon & Macphail invested almost six years in it and completely refurbished the distillery. Completely? No, Two pieces of equipment survived: a cast iron Boby Mill and the spirit receiver.
Identity Card Benromach 1975
- Official bottling from Benromach Distillery, Forres (Speyside)
- 41-year-old single malt Scotch whisky - single cask
- Refill American hogshead #3434
- 162 bottles
- Alcohol: 49.9% ABV
Tasting notesColour: A light golden coloured whisky that reveals slow fat legs on the glass.
Nose: Banana and oak take the lead and that doesn’t come as a surprise. A sweet spiciness welcomes you like an old friend. Vanilla and custard aromas are teaming up with a Flemish delicacy, mats cake. White chocolates stuffed with pistachio cream. Orange and grapefruit rind. Candied orange, furniture polish and nuts. And yet after all these years, this cask kept a delicate malt flavour.
With water: Thai basil and honeycomb. The waxiness is far more pronounced. Oranges and tangerines. A tiny whiff of smoke reveals itself given some time in the glass.
Taste: Pepper and crispy oak grab your tongue. Coffee beans and cacao give balance to the sweet honey and candyfloss flavours. Leathery smoke. Spicy malt from a dark stout sipped from a worn leather armchair.
With water: Malt and oranges meet sugar and tobacco. A touch of ground black pepper. The mouthfeel is softer and creamier.
Finish: Bitter malt, spices and orange leave a warm coat on the tongue for quite some time.
These old malts need time. Be patient with it. But once it starts talking to you, it blows you away with detailed and layered stories. This is your grandfather telling stories from his youth. And he's telling them with such a vivid enthusiasm it only seemed yesterday.
This is not a dram you'll sip every day. Certainly not with a price point way over £1000. A whisky in its early forties with the vibrancy of a youngster. The oak fulfilled its role without overpowering the malt. Sometimes you just need to grab the occasion with both hands and be thankful for a glass of liquid history. This is one of those moments.
Sample disclosure: The Benromach 1975 single cask sample was offered by Benromach. Opinions expressed in this review are of course my own.
Photo credits: Benromach