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Construction work on the Benromach distillery began in 1898 but took until 1900 to complete. The distillery has changed hands from owner to owner on multiple occasions over the years and even experienced several lengthy periods of closure. Most recently, the site was mothballed in 1983 as part of a massive cost-cutting exercise at DCL.
Scotland’s whisky industry is renowned for traversing periods of great boom and dramatic bust and the first half of the 1980s saw a huge downturn in the fortunes of many a distiller. As drinkers turned to Vodka and other white spirits en masse, whisky sales plummeted, leaving warehouses full of maturing whisky that no one wanted. For small, independent distillers this was a potentially fatal situation but for giants like DCL, it simply meant that some belt-tightening was required. Facilities deemed surplus to requirements were mothballed or closed permanently, like Port Ellen and Brora, while Benromach fell silent for the best part of a decade.
In 1993, Benromach was bought by Gordon & MacPhail, a well known independent bottler from the Speyside town of Elgin. Plans were put in place to produce a classic Speyside single malt, including the use of some peated barley, a practice that has all but disappeared in the area today. Gordon & MacPhail decided that Benromach should maintain this traditional smoky element and insisted upon a mix of Brewer’s and Distiller’s yeast in the fermentation process, adding some additional fruity notes to the character of the spirit.
Benromach’s 10 year old single malt makes up the ‘classic range’ along with the 15 year old and 100 proof expression.
Smell: Vanilla and Cream with Berries, Biscuit and Barley and gentle hints of Bonfire Smoke throughout.
Taste: Dark Chocolate, Berries again, Pepper and exotic Spices with more of that subtle Smoke influence.
Thoughts: Gordon & MacPhail have been producing an interesting, old-fashioned style of single malt whisky at Benromach. That’s not a criticism, by the way, the malt seems to stand out from a lot of its competitors. It’s faintly smoky, like all Speyside would once have been and it’s full of character. Good, approachable asking price at £35, too.