Benromach Peat Smoke 2004 Review

“Benromach Goes Islay”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Benromach Peat Smoke 2004
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 9 Years
ABV: 46%

Colour: Pale Straw/White Wine

Nose: Quite similar to a young peated Islay Malt although the Peat is more Earthy than Maritime. Despite the high PPM, the Peat and Smoke are quite mild. Make sure to give this Benromach enough time in the glass to give it a chance to release its other Aromas as well. I find Toasted Barley, Hay, Heather Honey, Vanilla, Charred Oak, Dirt Road, light Soot, light Ashes, Smoked Ham, Mixed Citrus Peel, Caramel, Green Apple, Dried Herbs and light Spices. It's not earth-shaking but well-balanced. It invites you to take a sip. Given its age, the Alcohol is reasonably well integrated.  

Palate: Sweet at first but Dry and Spicy towards the end. I find Toasted Barley, Hay, Earthy Peat, light Smoke, Cigar Ashes, light Soot, light Menthol, Licorice, Cinnamon, Pepper, Grapefruit Juice and Mixed Citrus Peel. On the Palate it's more clear we're dealing with a Young Single Malt.

Finish: On the short side with Sweet Barley, Dirt Road, Dusty Vanilla, Ashes, Lemon Juice, Orange Peel, Pear, Smoked Meat, Licorice, Cinnamon, Pepper, Dried Herbs, Charred Oak and hints of Milk Chocolate, Acetone and Fish Oil.

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose becomes more Floral. On the Palate I get extra Citrus, Cinnamon and Sugar. I prefer it neat but you can carefully add a few drops if you like.

Rating: 86

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21.5 – Finish: 21 – Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: The Benromach Distillery is located in Forres (Morayshire) 

and was founded in 1898 by the Benromach Distillery Company. Benromach was mothballed from 1931-1937 and from 1983-1993. In 1993, Benromach was bought by Independent Bottler Gordon & MacPhail from United Distillers and since 1998 the Distillery is up and running again. The Benromach I'm tasting today is a Small Batch release, heavily peated at 53 PPM. It was distilled in 2004 and matured for around 9 years in a First Fill ex-Bourbon Cask before being bottled in 2014. It's not Chill-Filtered and naturally coloured. On average it costs a little over 50 US Dollars (August 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: Nice effort from Benromach. In my opinion the Benromach whiskies benefit from the use of Peat Smoke in the production process. It does not have to be 53 PPM(*) as the well-balanced standard 10 Years shows. Although the Benromach Peat Smoke 2004 is heavily peated, it's not a Peat Bomb like for instance the Ardbeg 10 that has a similar PPM. Somehow, the Benromach Peat is more subtle and subdued. It does not totally dominate the other Aromas and Flavours.  But if you like Caol Ila 12 or Lagavulin 16 for instance you won't be disappointed by this Benromach. The Price/Quality ratio is correct. I can't help but wondering how good this whisky could be when it would mature a little longer. But that's day-dreaming. For the time being I still prefer the 10 Years but the Peat Smoke is certainly a worthy addition to the Benromach portfolio! 

(*) The 2005 version of the Peat Smoke even shows an impressive 67 PPM. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                       August 27, 2015

Some Cask Types used at Benromach

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