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Monday, November 13, 2017

Benromach 9 year old 2001 Cask Strength

Since freezing weather arrived more than a month early, I'll review a pair of winter warmers this week. Both are full strength single-digit-aged Benromachs which means you're the only one reading this review right now.

The big news about today's whisky is that it's from my own bottle. It's an all-bourbon barrel Benromach, that sat on shelves for seven years even though it garnered a very positive review from Whiskyfun. Benromach single malt and I get on well, so I did something very rare by opening the bottle the day I bought it.

To gain additional perspective, I tried this whisky along with another single-digit all-bourbon cask Benromach that had a nearly identical ABV. Stay tuned for a review of that one on Wednesday.

Distillery: Benromach
Ownership: Gordon & MacPhail
Region: Speyside (Findhorn)

Age: 9 years (March 5, 2001 to September 20, 2010)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrels
Cask #: 87 - 91, 93 and 94
Alcohol by Volume: 59.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(my bottle, upper third)

The nose begins with lots of barley, vanilla bean and Twizzlers. A barn note in the back. A forest floor up front, covered with earth, pine needles and wet leaves. Hints of orange oil and bright American oak. The palate starts off with scorched marshmallows, green herbs and lots of lemon juice. Savory and vanilla hints float around. On a macro level, it's like a super dry white wine, with a crackling minerality. The long, warm finish has tart fruit, green serrano peppers, bourbony vanilla and a whiff of smoke.

DILUTED TO ~43%abv
The nose is quieter. Barley holds the foreground. Some wood ash, apples and new carpet in the mid-ground. Hints of lemon and sulphur here and there. Soft peat in the palate, along with powdery vanilla and chocolate. More sugar and caramel, but it's not too sweet. Plenty of barley, still. The tart, but mild finish is mostly lemons, barley and sugar.

It's a crisp thing, this Benromach. And it's difficult to name many distilleries that deliver this lean un-romantic style so well. I like it better without water because dilution just turns the volume down. Its earnest lanky personality (personification, anyone?) needs the heft.

At the same time, one can feel it butting up against walls caused by a premature bottling. It just can't reach very far because it was withdrawn from the cask before its potential was attained. Very good at nine years old, this could have been a knockout at twelve.

Availability - Winesearcher shows it at two stores on this whole planet
Pricing - $75-$80 US/Europe
Rating - 85 (neat)