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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Benromach

Master of Malt tastes… Benromach 21 Year Old

When we heard that Benromach had released a 21-year-old expression, we were intrigued to see how the brand’s distinctive style of whisky matured over the years. So, we had a…

When we heard that Benromach had released a 21-year-old expression, we were intrigued to see how the brand’s distinctive style of whisky matured over the years. So, we had a taste. And we liked.

Back in May 2018, I had the good fortune of visiting two Speyside distilleries on the same day. One was the giant Glenfiddich, a sprawling campus of creation and enterprise which makes the world’s best-selling single malt whisky and more. The other was Benromach Distillery

The contrast was stark. Benromach is a small-scale, manual distillery. Every process is carried out and monitored by a small staff and its production capacity is 380,000 litres of whisky per year (Glenfiddich makes 13,000,000 litres in that time). The humble approach and rustic charm is no accident, however. After purchasing the site back in 1993, Gordon & MacPhail’s goal was to create traditional handcrafted single malt influenced by the kind of whisky that would have been produced in Speyside in Scotch’s 19th-century heyday.

Since the distillery restarted production, we have used traditional production methods, and each stage of the process is designed to give a spirit character that is traditional, lightly peated and handcrafted,” says Keith Cruickshank, Benromach’s distillery manager. “Our small team of distillers has long relied entirely on their expertise and senses to make the finest handmade whisky and that’s something that hasn’t changed since the distillery reopened 22 years ago.

Benromach 21 Year Old

The small, charming Benromach makes a distinctive style of whisky

The distillery had passed through a number of hands after it was first established in Forres, Scotland in 1898, sadly closing in 1983 before it was revived by Gordon & MacPhail. By 1998 production had restarted using locally-grown Scottish barley which is malted with a little peat smoke, recalling the Speyside tradition of topping up fires with cuts of peat when coal ran low. The barley is ground into grist in a 120 year-old four-roller Boby Mill over a 90 minute period, before it’s mixed with water drawn from the nearby Chapelton Spring in the Romach Hills, the same source used by Benromach since it first opened.

The aim is to create a medium-bodied spirit suitable for variable lengths of maturation, which explains the long fermentation process, which lasts between three and five days in larch washbacks that Cruickshank says creates a rich, complex, fruity new make. The brand also takes the unusual step of using two types of yeast: brewer’s and distiller’s yeast. “We feel it creates a more complete fermentation – this all contributes to the development of more complex flavours”.

Distillation takes place in a 7,500-litre short and squat wash still and a 5,500-litre spirit still. Cruickshank explains that the former has an almost horizontal lyne arm to create more copper contact with the alcohol, which lends to the desired medium-heavy spirit character and that the latter has a reflux ball which pushes back down the very heavy vapours, allowing lighter vapours to travel up the still. Once the spirit is distilled, it’s hand-filled into first-fill casks exclusively and rolled into traditional dunnage style warehouses, which provide “consistent temperatures and the ideal conditions for maturing single malt whisky,” according to Cruickshank.

Benromach 21 Year Old

First-fill casks are used exclusively at Benromach

This process has enabled Benromach to establish an impressive core range in a short space of time. For my money, the 10 Year Old is one of the finest bottlings available at its price point and the brand has demonstrated an ability to experiment and innovate, with limited-edition cask strength expressions, organic bottlings and intriguing wood finishes. Its latest release is what has taken our focus today, however. Benromach 21 Year Old is the oldest permanent addition to its core range. It was matured in first-fill sherry and bourbon and bottled at 43% ABV, ready to be launched just as the distillery announced a redesign, inspired by the hand-painted sign that used to adorn the roof above the kiln, along with the distinctive red doors around the distillery and the red brick chimney.

Its release caught my eye because the dram should provide a window into how ‘new’ Benromach matures over a long period of time. Is the distillery character preserved? What effect does the commitment to first-fill casks have? For Cruickshank, the 21 year old represents a progression of the brand’s signature style. “It perfectly embodies the decades of hard work, pride and passion that have gone into recreating that lost character of Speyside whiskies from the 1950s and 1960s. As an older whisky which is still grounded in our commitment to using only the finest first-fill bourbon and sherry casks, it provides a unique take on the classic Benromach style.”

It’s a take I thoroughly enjoyed. Since the late nineties, Benromach has demonstrated the story of revival can be understated, patient and methodical, and the 21 Year Old is just rewards. It’s a dram of variety and vibrancy. The melding of sherry and bourbon casks is measured and graceful, pairing plenty of distillery character with a subtle and understated maturity. It’s got tremendous clarity and style. Take your time and savour this one.

You can purchase Benromach 21 Year Old here and the full tasting note is below.

Benromach 21 Year Old Tasting Note:

Nose: Deep Oloroso sherry comes through, with stewed plums, raspberry jam and juicy sultanas initially followed by hints of Pinot Noir, orange peel and dried apricots. Vanilla, toasted brown sugar, milk chocolate and aromatic ginger spice appear underneath with sweet peat warmth throughout. 

Palate: Notes of stewed orchard fruit, chocolate-covered raisins and Seville orange marmalade are followed by hints of set honey, praline, red berries and gingerbread. In the backdrop, there’s cracked black pepper, tangy oak and smoke from a smouldering bonfire. 

Finish: Sherry tones lead the finish, with a hint of buttery toffee apples, oak spice and fruitcake.

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Gaze upon our exceptional whiskies and more!

With payday on the horizon after working hard all month, you deserve a reward for all your efforts. It’s time to treat yo self. January is nearly over, folks. It…

With payday on the horizon after working hard all month, you deserve a reward for all your efforts. It’s time to treat yo self.

January is nearly over, folks. It might feel like it’s taken forever, but the end is in sight. You’ve pushed through the drab and dreary, shaken off those winter blues and made peace with your lack of New Year’s resolutions. Who needs ‘em anyway? Not you.

Now you want to celebrate the approaching payday with a little well-earned indulgence. Perhaps an experimental Scotch whiskey, or the World’s Best Gin 2019? Maybe a legendary Guyanese rum or a marvellous mezcal? You might even want something new and shiny… Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re bound to find it here. Enjoy!

Sazerac Straight Rye

Sazerac Straight Rye was named after the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, the birthplace of the eponymous cocktail. This spicy rye whiskey from the Buffalo Trace distillery is ideal for said serve, but is equally delicious neat. 

What does it taste like?:

Sweet spices, stem ginger in syrup, orange zest, freshly ground black pepper, mixed peels, peanut butter, toffee and barrel char.

Glenfiddich – Fire & Cane

We all like to embrace our experimental side every now and again, and for those who want Scotch with a point of difference, the Glenfiddich Experimental Series is an obvious place to start. Fire & Cane was created by malt master Brian Kinsman by giving some of the distillery’s peated single malt a three-month finishing period in rum casks that were selected from a variety of South American countries. 

What does it taste like?:

Rich sweet toffee, zesty fresh fruit, Highland peat campfire, toffee and sweet baked apple.

El Dorado 12 Year Old

The desire for rum to get more of the spotlight has been palpable for some time in this industry, but with so much competition in the market and such a variety of styles and expressions, those who want to upgrade their rum game might not know where to start. We recommend this outstanding 12-year-old Demerara rum from El Dorado, which has won numerous awards and accolades for its complex and refined profile.

What does it taste like?:

Toffee, vanilla, smoke, cocoa, caramel, prunes and sweet spices.

Benromach 10 Year Old

Benromach 10 Year Old is one of the finer entry-level expressions you find in the Scotch whisky market and thanks to its singular profile. Inspired the classic pre-1960s Speyside character, it makes for an intriguing dram even for seasoned Scotch drinkers. The fruity, balanced profile with a light touch of smoke comes from the fact that it was lightly peated to 12-14ppm and then matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.

What does it taste like?:

Dry barley, sweet spices, puckering prune, maple fudge, slightly herbal, grassy, ground ginger and dry sherry.

 

Montelobos Joven Mezcal

An ideal expression for mezcal lovers and newcomers to the category alike, Montelobos Joven Mezcal was created by biologist and distiller Iván Saldaña and Mescalero Don Abel Lopez with espadín agave using traditional production methods. It’s also got a bottle with a cool-looking wolf on the label. What more could you want?

What does it taste like?:

Gentle wood smoke, green bell pepper, underripe green apple, blue cheese, a delicate mineral streak, subtle smokiness and ripe tropical fruit.

 

Dingle Original Gin

The winner of the World’s Best Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards, Dingle Original Gin was made with locally foraged botanicals, including rowan berry, fuschia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather from the south-west coast of Ireland. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better G&T than the one you’ll make with this beauty,

What does it taste like?:

Juicy and sweet with authentic summer berry notes, followed by fresh herbs (think mint leaf and fennel).

 

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The Nightcap: 9 November

We’ve got another edition of The Nightcap ready – time for your brain to hungrily digest these delicious morsels of drinks news! It’s Friday, fair folks that read the MoM…

We’ve got another edition of The Nightcap ready – time for your brain to hungrily digest these delicious morsels of drinks news!

It’s Friday, fair folks that read the MoM Blog! While this of course means that it’s time for your regularly scheduled instalment of The Nightcap, it’s also the day of the week that new CDs get released. So why not enjoy The Nightcap while listening to some fresh new jams – like a jazz album by Jeff Goldblum? Yes, that Jeff Goldblum. Jeff “Life finds a way” Goldblum. What does that have to do with booze? Nothing, we just think Jeff Goldblum is cool.

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Plans unveiled for new whisky distillery at Craggan

Speymalt Whisky Distributors, parent of the Benromach distillery and Gordon & MacPhail, has announced plans to build a brand new malt whisky distillery at Craggan in the Cairngorms National Park….

Speymalt Whisky Distributors, parent of the Benromach distillery and Gordon & MacPhail, has announced plans to build a brand new malt whisky distillery at Craggan in the Cairngorms National Park.

News of new whisky distilleries continues to be music to our ears, and the hits keep coming. Plans have just been announced for a brand new malt whisky distillery to be built at Craggan in the Cairngorms National Park by Speymalt Whisky Distributors. As the parent company of the Benromach distillery and long-running whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail, setting up a second distillery ought to be an exciting project with a particularly delicious result – more Scotch whisky for us all to enjoy!

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The Nightcap: 25 May

Happy Friday, team! It’s a wrap on the week that was, which means we have another edition of The Nightcap for you! Read on for news of distillery developments, brilliant…

Happy Friday, team! It’s a wrap on the week that was, which means we have another edition of The Nightcap for you! Read on for news of distillery developments, brilliant new bars, and intriguing product developments…

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday… (you’re welcome for the earworm). It’s time to down tools for the weekend and reflect on another seven days in drinks.

Before we crack on with The Nightcap proper, let’s recall another stellar week on the blog. On Monday we got set for the Chelsea Flower Show with Annie’s round-up of deliciously floral whiskies – whether plants are your thing or not, it’s a sublime list of sunny-day sippers. Then on Tuesday we were VERY excited. We got to share a sneak peek inside Macallan’s new distillery following our secret visit back in April. It’s definitely one to add to the bucket list!

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Celebrate World Whisky Day with the The Malt Whisky Trail

With World Whisky Day taking place this Saturday, here at MoM Towers we thought we’d showcase The Malt Whisky Trail, a wonderful trek through stunning Speyside featuring classic distilleries and…

With World Whisky Day taking place this Saturday, here at MoM Towers we thought we’d showcase The Malt Whisky Trail, a wonderful trek through stunning Speyside featuring classic distilleries and plenty of sublime Scotch whisky

How are you planning on spending this World Whisky Day (Saturday 19th May – come to think of it, I have a feeling there’s some big event on that day…*)? I’m sure we’ll all enjoy some great whisky first and foremost, maybe even schedule a distillery visit, or try a new expression or style.

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Happy 20th Anniversary, Benromach!

Speyside single malt whisky distillery Benromach is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the most fitting of ways: with a fabulous new limited edition expression: Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling! 2018 represents…

Speyside single malt whisky distillery Benromach is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the most fitting of ways: with a fabulous new limited edition expression: Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling!

2018 represents a significant milestone in Benromach’s history: it’s 20 years since the site was re-opened after decades of uncertainty and a subsequent period of refurbishment. The distillery can actually trace its roots back to 1898, but its chequered past saw it mothballed multiple times. That was until Gordon & Macphail saved the day, buying the site in 1993. In 1998, spirit flowed from its stills once again.

The Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling (which was bottled just shy of its 20th year in oak) was matured in both first fill ex-sherry and first fill ex-bourbon casks in Benromach’s traditional dunnage warehouse, and captures ‘the classic character of Benromach Speyside single malt Scotch whisky – rich, smooth and beautifully balanced, with a hint of smoke’.

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Benromach Distillery reveals warehouse expansion plans!

It might be Speyside’s smallest working distillery, but Big Things lie ahead for Benromach. The Gordon & MacPhail-owned single malt Scotch whisky producer has detailed plans to boost its warehousing capacity…

It might be Speyside’s smallest working distillery, but Big Things lie ahead for Benromach. The Gordon & MacPhail-owned single malt Scotch whisky producer has detailed plans to boost its warehousing capacity after experiencing a tremendous 27% surge in sales last year.

Ever since the Forres-based site was brought back to life by the Urquhart family some 20-odd years ago, its whisky range – led by benchmark single malt, Benromach 10 Year Old – has experienced double-digit sales growth every year without fail.

The distillery was subject to a reinvigorating five-year refurbishment period before it re-opened in 1998, but with demand skyrocketing (bolstered by “particularly strong” overseas growth), the time has come to ramp things up a notch.

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Spotlight on… Benromach + Win a Bottle of Benromach 1974

This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at Benromach – a distillery which oozes that truly classic Speyside style. And, for a limited time only, we’re giving away a staggering…

This week, we’re taking an in-depth look at Benromach – a distillery which oozes that truly classic Speyside style. And, for a limited time only, we’re giving away a staggering single cask bottle of Benromach 1974 worth £1,200!
 
Today, with its malty, slightly smoky, rich single malt, Benromach is an innovative distillery, boasting a wide variety of styles and creations, despite its fairly small scale. There’s heavily peated malt; the world’s first organic-certified single malt whisky; some tremendous Jim Murray Whisky Bible scores (he described the 30 Year Old as “magnificent”); and all produced by hand by a team of just four distillers. With no computer automation and complete reliance of distilling by sight, sound and smell, there is a great deal of room for nuance and character. As Distillery Manager, Keith Cruickshank, says, “sometimes it’s those tiny inconsistencies that make a whisky so beautifully consistent.”

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