Benromach 9 Years Old 2001 Hermitage Wood Finish (45%, OB, 1300 bottles, 2010)
45% ABV, £33.99 from Hopetoun Farm Shop
What they say:
Our distillery – Speyside’s smallest – is located on the outskirts of the ancient market town of Forres, in north-east Scotland. Just two experienced distillers passionately hand-craft Benromach using the finest Scottish barley and the purest spring water from the nearby Romach Hills. They personally ensure that only the highest quality spirit is filled into sturdy oak casks before being left to mature at Benromach for many years. Only when it has matured to our highest quality standards do we bottle it and proudly label it – Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Benromach Distillery is owned and managed by Gordon & MacPhail – a family business for over 100 years.
Limited Edition of 1300 bottles
After an initial maturation period the whisky is transferred into oak casks that have been used to produce wine from the Hermitage Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, in the northern Rhône wine region of France (just south of Lyon) and ‘finished’ for a further 22 months. This region produces mainly red wines from the Syrah grape, and some see this place as the home of the Syrah grape variety.
The whisky is initially matured in 1st fill Sherry and Bourbon casks. Finished in Hermitage casks.
AROMA WITHOUT WATER
Initially a subtle smokiness with sweet cured bacon influences. A fruity note of ripe red berries and citrus elements emerge. A creamy toffee element lingers.
TASTE WITHOUT WATER
Citrus notes are initially evident – lemon and limes. A subtle hint of peat smoke, with a warming spice – ground black pepper. A pleasant smooth and creamy element lingers.
AROMA WITH WATER
Initially fresh, malty notes are present. Hints of freshly bailed hay, with some citrus notes emerge – reminiscent of fresh pink grapefruit and lime zest. A rounded sweetness lingers.
TASTE WITH WATER
An initial burst of sweetness, with a toasted malt edge. A very delicate hint of smoke becomes evident. Smooth and balanced.
What I say:
I first tried Benromach whisky at the Scottish Garden Show 2012 when I had a sample of several of their range including their Organic and Peated expressions, both of which I was very impressed with. A little while later I stumbled across the Benromach Origins (at 50% ABV) as the dram of the week at the Cask and Barrel Southside in Edinburgh. More than likely it was one of those increasingly frequent occasions when my beloved ‘Noisy Neighbour Blue Manchester Soccer Team’ were obliterating the somewhat geographically confused “Liverpool is our real derby game”- Red Manchester Soccer Team’. Anyway stupid is as stupid does, I enjoyed it that much I went back for a double only to be told that due to its strength they were legally restricted from selling me a double measure. Only when I sat down disappointed did it occur to me I could have ordered one for myself and one for my ‘friend’! I spotted some Benromach expressions with a thin layer of dust on them on one of the higher shelves of the Hopetoun Farm Shop and took my chances on the Hermitage wood finish. This was purely because in Iain Banks book ‘Raw Spirit’ he describes how his favourite wine ‘Penfolds Grange Bin 95’ was formulated by Australian wine makers attempting to recreate the Hermitage Appelation wines from France.
Irn Bru (Golden Amber Orange)
Sweet esters and citric acid, like iron brew chews and cola bottles all rolled into one, a little red wine influence on the nose also
Warm orange sherbet fizz, Red berry fruits and grapes, sultanas, fermented ginger [again reminscent of cola bottles sweets], toffee, drying but very smooth and mellow
Tannic drying with a little cinnamon spice, medium length
Would I buy it again:
At first I thought this was going to be a little too fruity for my taste but it quickly kicks in with a lot of fizzy flavours on the palate and really fills out in character. I was surprised to recognise many of the sherry influence flavours within this despite the Hermitage cask finish. In the end I decided this was a particularly fine example of wine-finished whisky which incorporates and encompasses all of the characteristics I really enjoy. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea [or whisky], we here at the Whiskyphiles love this interesting Benromach expression and I would certainly buy/try more!