Something new from one of our oldest friends. We’ve featured a lot of Gordon and MacPahil’s independent bottlings over the years. We’ve also featured a few from their own distillery – Benromach. This month we’ll sample another from the smallest distillery in Speyside – the Benromach 15 Year Old.

The Benromach distillery was completely rebuilt by Gordon and MacPhail starting in 1993. The rebirth was completed in 1998, 100 years after it was first built. Benromach distillery considers itself a ‘ curious irony’ in that they (Gordon & MacPhail) deliberately refitted and modernised the distillery to allow them to stay ‘true’ to the old methods, but achieve modern standards of operating efficiency.

When the Benromach 15 year old is opened, a caramel aroma is first released, with sultana’s and a gentle campfire smokiness.

The palate is met with vanilla from the charred American Oak barrels, and the barley sugar characteristic of Speyside whiskies. The second flavour is what really excites! It is an unusual and unique flavour explosion of Olorosso sherry soaked in raisins and orange peel. It reminds me of Billy Kwong’s Duck in Citrus Sauce, that has lime juice, cinnamon, orange peel and star anise.

The smokiness really comes through on the finish with a gentle drying after taste to compliment and temper the flavours that have just exploded in the mouth.
This whisky is intriguing. It is like a conversation with a fascinating new friend that you just want to keep listening too.

Well done Benromach 15yo. Well done Gordon & MacPhail. Well done Scotland!


Bottle Size : 700ml
ABV : 43% abv
Region : Scotland – Speyside
Peated : No

Pour yourself a dram of Benromach 15 Year Old. Lift it to the light and note the especially golden amber colour, thanks to the long maturation in sherry and bourbon casks. Now swill it around your glass and take a few little inhalations to savour the AROMA WITHOUT WATER… there’s a lot going on… beautifully balanced sherry aromas with vanilla pod, zesty orange and spicy ginger complemented by delicate chamomile and menthol notes. Now sip your dram, roll the whisky around your mouth and enjoy the TASTE WITHOUT WATER… there’s luscious, rich fruit cake with stewed plum, red apple skin and the sharp edge of kiwi fruit. Next, take in the AROMA WITH WATER… the whisky shifts into another gear with subtle hints of cocoa, nutmeg and cinnamon giving way to sweet honey notes and hints of bonfire embers. Add a drop or two of water to release the full TASTE WITH WATER… it’s a very satisfying palate with traces of charred oak complementing sweet tangerine, plum and nectarines… completed by a gorgeous touch of milk chocolate.

Benromach 15 year old


The Benromach Distillery was built in 1898 by Duncan Macallum. Due to the ‘whisky depression’ at the time it didn’t actually start producing until 1900 and only lasted 1 year before closing it’s doors. It went been through many owners hands and periods of moth-balling up until 1985 when it (seemingly) closed for good. In 1993 our old friends Gordon and MacPhail (of independent bottling fame) decided to buy the Benromach distillery and then set out to restore and re-commission it over the next 5 years. In 1998 it was re-opened with much fanfare by non-other than Prince Charles himself! Over he next few years, distillation and ageing was once again happening and in 2004 Benromach began bottling their whisky.

Benromach 15 year old
Benromach 15 year old

Benromach remains a very ‘old school’ traditional distillery despite it’s relatively recent refurbishment. Only 3 people are employed in the production process and the whole show is run without computers of any kind. In fact, the stills at Benromach don’t even have pressure gauges – the distillation process is carried out totally ‘by hand’ with the distillers knowledge of the sounds, sights and smells of the stills used to guide and control the process.

Let’s examine the ‘Organic’ label a bit more closely. It all starts in the field with certified organic Scottish (from the Speyside region) barley that has been certified by the Soil Association. Organic yeast is then added with pure spring water from the Romach hills. Although Scottish whisky is traditionally aged in second hand barrels, this can’t be the case with an organic whisky, so they have had to use (certified) organic barrels made from wild grown American oak trees. Once the trees were felled, there were no chemicals, insecticides or preservatives added to the wood prior to them being coopered into barrels.