...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, October 30, 2023

The Benromach Mini-Cluster!

That Benromach still produces whisky today is one of whiskydom's wee miracles. Before its first production year, 1900, had completed, the distillery was closed due to financial issues linked to the Pattison crash. It reopened in 1907 under a different name, Forres, and then closed three years later due to the onset of The Great War. It reopened after the war, then was closed again in 1931. Under the ownership of National Distillers of America, it reopened in 1938. It was scooped up by DCL in 1953, and then was closed again in 1983, along with many other of DCL/UD's distilleries during the Whisky Loch. But unlike most of the other shuttered facilities, Benromach was not bulldozed to the ground. Instead it was sold to independent bottler, Gordon & MacPhail, in 1993. G&M then fired up the stills in 1999, and they're still running in 2023.

The last I'd checked, Benromach was the smallest distillery in Speyside. Its capacity is similar to Springbank's, and like the famous Campbeltowner it only produces a fraction of that capacity each year. Most of its malt is peated at 12ppm (right in my favorite peaty window of 10-15ppm), though it also has occasional batches going in with the thumping power of 60ppm. Also similar to Springbank distillery, Benromach has widely varying fermentation times (67-115 hours) and a range of middle cut points (60%-72%).

All of this results in one of my favorite single malts. Its style feels old school, or at least satisfies my fantasy of old school scotch. The ever-present moderate peat isn't the main show, rather one of many well-balanced ingredients. That peat sometimes has a greasy, industrial edge not found in too many contemporary whiskies, which is what probably soothes the aforementioned fantasy. It feels like expertly-honed blue-collar scotch from a previous generation. And even if it isn't actually like "old school" whisky, at least it's delicious.

I have several bottles of Benromach, and I've been waiting to open a few this year. With autumn dawning around us, this felt like the perfect time to uncork 'em. I also have a host of Benromach samples gathering dust here, so it's time to cluster up!


1. Benromach Traditional - "One really gets a sense of Benromach's spirit here, which offers a combination of citrus and smoke that shows up in other great malts......The 40%abv is the problem."
2. Benromach 8 year old 2011, cask 400 for TWE - "...a hefty winter warmer, and probably a good dessert-after-dessert pour."
3. Benromach 2007 Cask Strength, Batch 1 - "The sherry casks have more influence than the ex-bourbon vessels, but the spirit still lives on."
4. Benromach 2009 Cask Strength, Batch 4 - "I could have certainly used a bottle of this during the early Covid Era."
5. Benromach 10 year old 2011 Polish Oak, cask 772 - "I bought this. I don't like this."
6. Benromach 10 year old, bottled 2010 - "The nose shows more balance than the busy palate, but everything works."
7. Benromach 10 year old, bottled August 2019 - "Salt, smoke, bitterness, tartness, and sweetness all caught in a neat little delivery, perfect for this autumn."
8. Benromach 10 year old, bottled December 2020 - "...this batch seems to be composed of more active casks. Thanks to Benromach's spirit, it's still a good drink."
9. Benromach 35 year old - "...the UD distillate flaunts lovely bright fruits with flickers of darkness in the background. But 43%abv?"

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