Construction work on Benromach began in 1898 but it took until 1900 to complete. Like many distilleries, Benromach has changed hands from owner to owner on multiple occasions over the years and experienced several periods of lengthy closure. Most recently, the distillery suffered at the hands of DCL (later Diageo) who decided to mothball the distillery in 1983 as part of a large-scale cost cutting exercise.
The whisky industry in Scotland is renowned for traversing regular periods of boom and bust and the first half of the 1980’s saw a drastic downturn in the fortunes of many a distiller. Sales plummeted and warehouses were left stocked full of maturing whisky that no-one wanted, in a crisis often referred to as the Whisky Loch. For small independent companies this situation could prove fatal but for a giant like DCL there was no such fear. They simply closed down facilities deemed surplus to requirements, some of them, like Port Ellen and Brora were seemingly lost for ever but Benromach wasn’t quite finished yet.
In 1993, Benromach distillery was bought by Gordon & MacPhail, the well known independent bottler from the Speyside town of Elgin. Plans were put in place to get the distillery producing a ‘classic’ speyside style of single malt, including the use of peated barley, a practice that has all but disappeared in the area today. Gordon & MacPhail decided that Benromach should maintain this traditional smokey element and insisted upon a mix of Brewer’s and Distiller’s yeast in the fermentation process, adding some additional fruity notes to the spirits character.
Benromach’s 10 year old single malt makes up the ‘classic range’ along with the 15 year old and 100 proof expression.
On the nose is Vanilla and Cream with Berries, Biscuit and Barley and gentle hints of Bonfire Smoke throughout. On the palate meanwhile is Dark Chocolate, Berries again, Pepper and exotic Spices with more of that subtle Smoke influence.
The Scores: About the scoring system…
Smell: Good complexity and balance, with enticing aroma’s that seem to multiply the longer you spend with your nose in the glass.
Taste: Decent weight on the palate and flavour that continues to develop and evolve over time.
Value for Money: Available for £35 in the UK and it really can’t be faulted at that price.
Overall: 42.5 / 50. Gordon & MacPhail deserve credit for the way they’ve gone about things at Benromach and most of all for the interesting, characterful malt that they produce. A good example of what an affordable, 10 year old malt can offer.