This month we are going to revisit a whisky we first featured about 4 years ago. Since then, The Benromach 10 year old has been a consistent success story for the distillery. It’s recently had a packaging ‘face -lift’ – but the character of the whisky remains true and forms the backbone of the Benromach portfolio.
Benromach Distillery is the smallest working distillery in the Speyside region and is located to the north of the town of Forres. In fact, Benromach is one of the smallest distilleries in the whole of Scotland and just three people are employed to produce their spirit. The current annual production capacity is just 200,000 litres per year,
The distillery was founded in 1898 under the name of Forres distillery. It became known as Benromach in 1919, but had a troublesome career until finally the distillery was re-opened by Gordon & MacPhail who embarked on an innovative program of whisky production. G&M have been ageing, blending and bottling single malt whiskies for 116 years, so they know a good dram.
Benromach are a little ‘unusual’ for a Speyside distillery, chiefly because they choose to include a touch (just a touch) of peatyness in their whisky. This pays homage to the original style of the Speyside – which utilised the burning of peat to dry the malted barley. So even though Speyside is known for it’s general ‘non-peatyness’, this is actually a fairly modern style reflecting the change from distillery-malting to distilleries buying malted barley from commercial suppliers. Benromach chooses instead to doff it’s cap to the Speysiders of old and embraces just a touch of peat. Just a touch though – The Benromach 10 year old has Phenol levels of 8ppm, which is quite a mild level of peatiness. By contrast, Laphroaig is about 40ppm.
The final whisky is made up of 80% first fill bourbon cask matured whisky and 20% first sherry cask matured, which are then married together and matured for the final year in first fill Olorosso sherry Hogsheads. To explain, single malt whisky is normally aged in barrels that have been used for other spirits. These barrels can be refilled several times, so first fill means this is the first time the barrel has been used to age whisky. Accordingly, you get the most flavour from the previous spirit out of first fill barrels.
Benromach 10yo has been awarded (to name just a few): Gold in Great Taste Awards, 2010 &11, 95 points in the ‘Ultimate Beverage Challenge 2013, 2014 World Whisky Awards – Best Speyside, Silver at the International Spirits Challenge 2015 and Gold at the Cathy Pacific Wine and Spirit Competition 2015. As you can see – this is a whisky that has consistently ranked very highly on the world stage every year since it’s release.
Andy’s on holiday at the moment (and left before the review bottle reached him), so here is his assessment of The Benromach 10yo à la 2012. Note how young and vibrant he looks with only one child at that time. Very interesting to hear his comments on the distillery then. Benromach has certainly gained a huge reputation since 2012. The 10yo can rightly claim to be an integral part to this continuing success story.