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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Benromach 12 year old 2006, cask 99 for Van Wees

I just saw it's been more than a year and a half since my last Benromach review. That's too long! Since that last review was for a Van Wees-selected single cask (#333), this one will be for a Van Wees-selected single cask. Cask 333 was excellent and has set my expectations high for cask 99.

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

Age: 12-ish years (2006 to 2018)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 99
Outturn: 193 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 59.2%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

The nose begins with sugary peat and buckets full of citrus peels. Then quieter notes of cinnamon candy and flower blossoms. The peat gradually turns farmier. It all feels very close to new make, though good new make. The fruity, sweet palate is hotter than the nose. It's loaded with pineapple and lemon juices, cinnamon candy and big (but not farmy) peat. Then basil leaves, ginger and horseradish. It finishes with citrus and cinnamon. Moderate sweetness and heat-ness. Mossy peat.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose has become noticeably different. Pears and green apples. Mint leaves and smokier peat. The palate is all sweet and peat at first. Then a few lemons roll in, some herbal bitterness. It becomes much too sweet for my palate. The finish is sweet, smoky and bitter.

Previous to cask 99, I'd tried three other single bourbon cask Benromachs and found them all to be very hot. Thankfully that's not the case here. Otherwise the first-fill bourbon cask doesn't do a whole lot. The whisky reads very young, half its age or less. And it's very peaty. Those two aspects are why I kept thinking, "This reminds me of Kilchoman." Which is a quirky, but positive, experience with even this peated Speyside malt.

The key to this whisky is caution with dilution. At 46%abv it becomes a generic peater that's missing something to balance out all the sugar. The palate sings at full power, possibly even topping the nose. All that being said, I don't think this tops anything from Benromach's regular range. So if you missed out on this release, no worries. Just chase down an easier to find Benromach and all will be well.

Availability - The Nether Regions, though it's mostly gone by now
Pricing - $100ish w/ VAT
Rating - 84 (when neat)

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