So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Benromach 10yo 100 proof vs 21yo vs 35yo

Funny how some distilleries have always been owned by the same owner, and others seem to live the cycle of death and rebirth. Benromach is one such resuscitated distillery that isn’t only just hanging on anymore, it’s well and truly on its feet.

Diageo acquired Benromach sometime in the early 50s and hence you will find it here and there and also in the old Rare Malts bottlings range as well. It continued production up until 1983 when hard times forced Diageo to close many of their distilleries, and then it was silent until 1992 when Gordon & Macphail purchased it. This is quite a unique move as independent bottlers don’t usually have their own distilleries – their business being buying casks and issuing them under their house label when mature. But this is no longer the case nowadays and many bottlers are either closely associated with, or outright own their own distilleries.

G&M took 6 years to ready the distillery, such a dilapidated condition it was in that virtually all the distillation equipment had to be replaced, but fortunately the sale included aging stock which is essential for cash flow of course. Production finally started up in 1998, in now what should properly be considered a new distillery distinct from the one that closed in 1983. Nonetheless I have nothing but admiration for G&M whose official mission for Benromach is to bring back a 1960s style of Speysider. Quite honestly, if you are like me and have tried and tire of the very similar modern flash sherry-fied NAS, 10year, 12 year old Speysiders being marketed as the next best thing, G&M’s mission brings a tear to the eye.

Some old school practices G&M uses? Brewer’s yeast, and long 3+ days fermentation. ‘Stills that are similar but smaller than the original.’ – From the horse’s mouth, but that really tells you nothing. Anyway, regular Benromach comes slightly peated at 10ppm, which may account for some of the more phenolic scents in the 10year 100proof below. But wait don’t take that as official, can’t be definitive about that.


Benromach 21yo 43%

Benromach 21

These 21 year olds were issued a couple of years back, but even if you do the math there’s no way this is really 21 years. Benromach closed in 1983, even assuming this was vatted from the last year of production, that means this spirit is really maybe late 20s.

Nose Nose: Before getting into it. Excellent blending. Very round with enough softness but also enough character to be intriguing. On one hand there’s a big dollop of these sweet soft dark fruit, and raisins and all that, but also the aching tang of raw green stonefruit. Then a mix of  wood wax, lamp oil, greased tins, burnt ham. I did say ‘character’. All the while a big but never blocky sweet old oakiness and soft rolling spices mash about. Like the lushest Speysider blended with an old Highlander. Not much development after but very good as it is.

Taste Palate: Yes old school notes of greased paper, minerals and damp black earth. Cooking pans. Lamp oil and soot, a bit gristly. But also a lot of these friendlier  rich wood and sherry notes expected from the nose. Nice round blend. I would say it is a tad weak and somewhat transient on the tongue, as the finish comes too quickly.

Finish Finish: Medium, somewhat tart and sappy. Raw green mango.


This is quite honestly really good whisky. Nice blend of old style and sweet elements. I say buy it if you see it around.


Benromach 35yo 43%

Benromach 35

This one checks out. It is distillate from 1980/81. Stunning presentation if I might say so.

Nose Nose: Yes. Deep resinous and full bodied. Huge aromatic old oakiness, and a big sweet but dry sherry influence in its most welcoming form – licorice, cocoa, dry dark fruit. Also lots and lots of wood polish, rubbing wax, furniture oil, all rubbed into some split and cracking old dry wood. Some earthiness, some bark. Its a mature and complex nose for sure, but peeks of some green freshness does come through here and there. Fantastic.

Taste Palate: Wow that’s quite a big hit of woodiness. Tannic woodiness, so much so she richer sherry is overpowered for a bit while the whole palate revels in these wood based flavours. Bitter medicinal herbs, musty cupboards, and the like. Too much of some bark based health drink without the good intentions. Again tad weak and short here, straight to the finish. A bit tired and woody I’m afraid.

Finish Finish: Medium long, but woody, herby and tannic.


The nose was superb but the palate really weak and way too woody for my liking. But I am very sensitive to wood tannins so maybe others find this excellent?


Benromach 10 yo 100proof ~2014

Benromach10 100

Bam. 57%. This stuff is distilled and matured after Gordon & Macphail’s take over, which ordinarily means a different style. Might that be a good thing?

Nose Nose: Well it’s young, kinda brash and not to be trifled with, but already has menthol and tobacco and a developing woodiness. Lots of Vicks, also very piney. Old books and suede leather. Some cake some sweet glazed topping.

Taste Palate: Sweet tobacco, kinda hot too but that can’t be helped. Pine and juniper and .. I have heard this one described as firewood smokey, but there is really something here like a wood fired oven in an expensive pizza restaurant. Malt old leather old books, pleasingly musty! Chest rub. Quite powerful though.

Finish Finish: Actually rather long, but also quite hot, pinewood and polish and old leather.


One of the best 10 year olds around. I can’t wait to see this at 21. Much respect to G&M for succeeding in putting genuine character into this whisky.

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2016 by in Benromach and tagged .
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