Eagle-eyed Axis readers may notice that one of our trio has been missing for some time. As in the better part of a year. That’s me, Baldo.
Why? Life…family…work…the usual…but also, to be honest, I think I’d burnt out on whisky a bit. After a good four years of near-daily postings, reviews, photo sessions, tastings, interviews, club events, etc., I realized I’d hit something of a wall.
I went on a long wander through a forest of German beer. Then Belgian. Then Italian wines. Then orange wines. Still wandering, in many ways.
But something serendipitous happened last week when Thane alerted me to an offer from Benromach to try an unspecified new bottling.
An old fondness for the old-fashioned Speyside distillery, one of my favorites, stirred in me. I’d be happy to try, I said.
As fate would have it, the new bottling turned out to be a 50-year-old. I’d actually had the opportunity to try the stunning Benromach 35 a while back, and was quite sure it was the oldest Benromach I’d ever have.
Not so, not so. Quite an occasion for a comeback, I’d say.
The 50, unsurprisingly, is quite a limited item. 125 decanters available worldwide, at a jaw-dropping $10,000 apiece. Non chill-filtered (phew).
I gave this one lots of time in the glass–there’s a rule of thumb out there that a single malt should be given roughly 10 minutes to breathe for every decade of age, in order for all its nuances to emerge.
Said nuances, it will come as little surprise to hear, were quite special.
The nose had that particular unmistakable density–even at 44.6% ABV–that’s characteristic of well aged single malts. It’s sweet. Strong sherry influence after half a century in an ex-sherry hogshead. Dark. Raspberry jam. Turkish delight. Stewed prunes. Intensely rich, in that nuanced way that only comes from a good long time in good oak–a world away from the punch in the nose you get from the young, brash sherry bombs of today.
Palate sings like a great baritone. Dark but juicy. Drier than the nose. Comes alive with a drop of water. Peat, which has always been mild at Benromach, is barely a whisper, registering as texture rather than smoke. Blackberry compote. The oak strong but admirably contained, without a hint of bitterness. Faint hint of peanut brittle.
Finish is medium-long, with that lovely darkness again. Molasses. Baking cocoa. Dark sweets. Brown butter. Morello cherry. A touch more sweetness than on the palate.
What can one say in sum about such a bottling? It’s a stunner, but one only a few dozen people will ever get the chance to try.
Those that do will be awfully glad they did.
It’s good to be back, friends. Cheers! – BO
Benromach graciously shared a sample with us for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.