Benromach 10 (43%, OB 2015)

The distillery is refreshingly honest about the maturation of their 10 year-old: it spends its first nine years in 80% bourbon and 20% sherry casks, before being married for a year in sherry casks. Ever since I first tried it in 2011, the Benromach 10 has remained one of my go-to whiskies both in terms of quality to price ratio but also quality outright. This bottle is from a few years ago but only opened recently.

Nose: Sweet and savoury, with hints of peat, some rubber that feels quite ‘Springbank’, and caramel. The smoke becomes more pronounced after a while, but it’s balanced by a fruitiness – both the fresh fruit you get in a lot of Speysides (apples) and caramelised sweet fruit from the sherry casks. Very nicely balanced.

Palate: more of the same – this is a malt that knows where it’s coming from and where it’s going. No incongruous notes, in other words. Earthy, savoury, fruity and sweet – this has a bit of everything. Black olives in the development are complemented by orange peel and nuts. Water brings out more sweetness but also more smoke.

Finish: Lingering, with rubber, sweet sherry and the hint of peat that won’t go away.

Comments: This is a great example of a characterful distillate enhanced, rather than manipulated, by the use of sherry casks. The Benromach 10 manages something quite rare. On the one hand, it is a great all-rounder with something for everyone – a bit of peat, a savoury coastal note, some sherry sweetness, some fresh fruit. On the other, has a unique, distinct identity. This is a profile that I only get in Springbank, some Highland Parks and maybe Clynelish. Highly recommended – a class leader.

Score: 88/100

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