Distiller: Benromach. Region: Speyside. ABV: 57%. Age: 10 years. Price: $100.
I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from Benromach, a small-scale Speyside distillery owned by the great independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail. That includes their 10-year-old standard bearer, several wine cask finishes, a 15-year-old, an all-organic release, and a heavily peated bottling. But the 57% ABV Imperial Proof may be my favorite yet.
The concept behind Benromach was to recreate a “pre-1960s” Speyside style, meaning lightly peated, on a deliberately small scale. It’s Speyside’s lowest-production distillery, run by just three staff, and the facility is not only computer-free, it doesn’t even have pressure gauges. Maturation is done exclusively in first-fill bourbon and sherry casks–a rarity, and a sign they don’t cut corners.
The Imperial Proof ups the ante on everything I like about the standard 10-year-old, but it doesn’t stop there. The nose is salty and pungent, with a little wet barn/boathouse funk. Organic. Alive. There’s sweetness here too, particularly with a few drops of water: Werther’s coffee-flavored caramels.
All these notes explode on the palate–with very little heat at full strength–along with the tarry smoke I love in other Benromachs. Takes water well. Chocolate syrup and bourbon fruits on the finish.
Even a taste of this is memorable. Now I’ve got to find myself a full bottle. Cheers, friends! – BO
A Benromach representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.