About the Distillery
We are happy to say that we’ve managed to land a unicorn this month. A whisky that Jim Murray scored 95.5, has had worldwide acclaim and is priced under that magic $100 mark. A sensational Speyside malt – and one with a difference. The Benromach Organic 2010 is completely (certified) organic, and as a consequence of this – only first fill, organically grown (American) Oak can be used to age it.
We’ll speak a bit more about that virgin oak later, but I’ll finish introducing the Benromach Organic 2010 by quoting Jim Murray – “A charming, understated essay in which malt, salted spice and barley sugar are described to perfection… gentle, refined and exquisitely elegant”.
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 aging was once again happening and in 2004 Benromach began bottling their whisky.
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.
Benromach Organic 2010 - our thoughts
The Benromach Organic 2010 is a whisky with a huge point-of-difference. The first fill casks allow us to get an insight to what the wood alone contributes to the end product. Usually whisky is aged in refill casks (those that have previously had sherry, port, bourbon etc aging in them) and so, many of the flavours of the previous contents find themselves present in the whisky that is aged in them. The Benromach organic allows us to remove all influences from other spirits or wines and get a picture of just what the wood contributes. And it’s a very interesting picture indeed.
Jim Murray rated it 95.5/100 and had this to say: “A charming, understated essay in which malt, salted spice and barley sugar are described to perfection… gentle, refined and exquisitely elegant”. High praise indeed from a reviewer with a known preference towards peated malts.
The nose is beautifully fruity with pineapple, coconut and mango wrapped around a solid core of malt. On the palate the Benromach Organic 2010 is buttery smooth with a banoffee pie, more tropical fruit and just a little spice. The finish is long, and slightly astringent with some pepper building on the tongue.
Distillers Tasting Notes
Colour: Golden Brown
Aroma without water: It’s delightfully sweet and malty at first, and after a few inhalations you may detect vanilla, toffee and banana influences coming through.
Taste without water: roll it around your mouth and savour the creamy pepper and sweet fruit flavours, particularly ripe bananas.
Aroma with water… fresh and malty with darker, delicioushints of coffee and cocoa. You may smell some vanilla notes, and a touch of the fruit bowl coming through once again – this time with citrus fruits, especially lemons.
Taste with water… the smooth and mellow body has an exoticcarnival feel with some gorgeous chilli spice and tropical fruit flavours, balanced with creaminess and a dark chocolate edge: a mouth-watering balance with a smooth and long finish.