Benromach is the smallest working distillery in Speyside, which most of us would assume means that their whiskies have an artisanal quality and attention to detail. The distillery was closed for 15 years and reopened in 1998. The Benromach Traditional was the first whisky released since this reopening. It is peated a little more than other whiskies from the area, at about 8-12 ppm. The distillery has had a somewhat rocky past, but seems to be overcoming it beautifully.
The Benromach is considered the entry level whisky for the distillery. Although it is young, it is surprisingly complex. This is probably due to the whisky being split into different casks for maturation, with 80% in bourbon casks and the remainder in sherry butts. It has a generous amount of peat, although not overwhelming by any means, and a ripe flavor that is both fresh and refreshing. It’s a great whisky for an entry level, and a great comeback for the distillery. Although Benromach has expanded its line since the Traditional was released, this is a whisky that I keep coming back to, especially on warm, late summer evenings when something light and fresh is demanded.
This is not to say that the whisky is without flaws. The palate does not seem well-integrated, and the finish is so short you might miss it. There is not a lot to think about when tasting the Benromach Traditional. However, entry level whiskies are supposed to be rather simple. This won’t hold up to an ancient whisky with layers of melding flavors, but it is nonetheless one of the best of its class. Interestingly, the bourbon and sherry flavors are all but absent here, probably due to the use of both types of cask.
Nose: 20/25. Spicy pine and ginger are the first elements to hit me, followed by sweet floral honey. A hint of nuts and peat smoke add depth. The nose is perhaps deceiving, because it hints at a much older, much more complex single malt.
Palate: 17/25. You will almost feel like you are tasting two whiskies at once. On one hand, there is a meadow feeling—flowers, grass, and heather. One the other hand, there is a richness and a buttery taste that is typical of Speyside malts, but without the toffee and caramel that I expect from the region. A little citrus zest cools your tongue even as a peppery heat burns it. These flavors are not blended at all—they are distinct and stand on their own. It is not unpleasant, but certainly unexpected.
Finish: 16/25. The Benromach Traditional turns sweet at the finish, and the citrus flavors ripen and begin to take over. A little more fresh ginger adds heat and spice. The finish is short, leaving only a mouthful of smoke in its wake.
Character: 19/25. The Benromach has a unique and pleasant flavor profile that builds anticipation for the distillery’s older and more balanced malts. Its light fruitiness and rich butter accents are complemented well by the slightly enhanced peat smoke elements.
Overall Rating of Benromach Traditional Whisky: 72/100.