Some distilleries are used to make product for popular blends. These factories are essential to the industry and they do not romantise their purpose. Other distilleries are used to generate single malt products where the distillery is an intrinsic part of the brand identity. Expensive prose are authored on the location, on Scotland and on what is means for you as a person if you buy this product. Other distilleries produce whisky using a small team of experts who have learnt their craft from peers slowly and methodically. They are entrusted with the best materials. They are given the time and space to produce  whisky. They are the smallest group of distilleries and one of their group is Benromach.

The Distillery


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 Dram

This organic bottle was distilled in 2011 and bottled in 2019 however the Organic line has been around for a while. Each is a distillation vintage and uses only organic Scottish barley. The UK Soil Association accredits this whisky as organic and has done since 2006 which was the first vintage. The casks used are all virgin oak casks and while this was somewhat unique in 2006 more distilleries are starting to try these casks. As buying quality ex-bourbon barrels becomes more expensive its increasingly making more sense to buy virgin to your own specification I suppose. At around 8 years old though this has to be about the longest virgin period that I know of. All very cool and interesting stuff from a bottle which is available for as little as £40 at 43% ABV. That ABV value is perhaps though a little odd but no matter on with the tasting.

Tasting Notes

colour – light yellow

Nose – apples. pears and subtle wood smoke.  Lots of vanilla and a touch of caramel.

Palate – caramel bananas and barley sugar make for a sweet palate if the texture is perhaps a little lacking. Some chocolate or roasted coffee beans.

Finish – Sweet finish again on a short finish. The sweet is cut with dark chocolate and coffee beans again.

Final Thoughts

This is a nice whisky but I thought it was not as good as the story of its creation. The ABV value is probably to temper the long virgin maturation but its a little flat to me. Benromach is a great distillery and I really want you to go out and try some if you can. For me the best has been the standard 10 year old but none are out and out bad just some are better than others.

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