For some people peat only comes from Islay and peated whiskies only from Islay distilleries. With the growth of the heavily peated whisky market there is now quite a few mainland distilleries spending some of there production schedule each year making peated whisky. Benromach Peat Smoke is just one example of this.
Currently owned by the Elgin based independent bottler Gordan & MacPhail the Benromach distillery in Forres is a popular small distillery in Speyside.
The distillery had a troubled start in life like quite a few distilleries from the time. Founded in 1898 it took two years to start production in 1900. Sadly, the money ran out before the year was out and the distillery would remain closed until 1911. Under new owners production continued until the outbreak of World War 1.
Post war and under another ownership production was restarted. Production would continue on the site while ping pong’ing around ownership until long term mothballing in 1983 like a lot of distilleries at the time. In 1993 the site was bought by the current owners who upgraded and refurbished the facilities so that a production team of two can operate the process in shifts.
Gordan & Macphail have developed a traditional house style of whisky using peat smoke to dry all the barley as was the traditional way. This gives a gentle hint of peat to all the expressions in a similar style to Springbank whisky. The Peat Smoke expression reviewed today however is a more modern interpretation of an overtly peat flavoured whisky.
The peat smoke is bottled at 46% ABV without colouring or chill filtration in a craft presentation style. The bottle is composed of only first fill ex bourbon casks with spirit used measuring a phenol level of 57ppm (part per million). A bottle of this is good value at £36.83 here.
A special mention goes out to the packaging of the bottle. The box is of strong cardboard with a metallic finish which looks expensive. Additionally, the lid of the box is used as a holder as shown above. The holder also includes a slot for the promotional material included inside the box as well. The bottle itself is a mix of modern and traditional with a sprayed logo “Peat Smoke 1898” and a traditional sticker label underneath with the usual information you would expect front and back.
Colour – lemon Juice
Nose – Vanilla is the most dominant rather than any peat fires. Desiccated coconuts and tangy pear drop sweets
Palate – Now a dry ashy peat which develops to be quite quite sweet. Tobacco leaves and more vanilla.
Finish – More sweet subtle peat lingers on the finish with some woody spices.
This is a well made whisky which is a great introduction to peated whiskies. Definitely recommended as a low risk option to step your toe in the water. However, someone who does like a peater would equally be happy trying a more heathery style of peat over the heavier Islay peat you might be used to.