Are You Ready For A Benromach Extravaganza?
If you don’t like Benromach, then you should just stop reading now and stay the hell away from this blog for the next couple of weeks. If you are a fan of Benromach, than you are in for a treat, because for the next three weeks, Words of Whisky will be all about Benromach, with tasting notes of some very rare expressions.
Regular readers might know that I have a big fondness for everything Benromach. It started with a distillery visit and an awesome tasting. Afterwards I was hooked. Since then I’ve been back to Forres (where Benromach is located) a couple of times, once to interview distillery manager Keith Cruickshank, which was a fun experience.
Quick History Lesson
The story of Benromach has been told before, but I’ll give a short recap. The distillery was founded in 1898 and kept on running till 1983, when it was closed along with many other distilleries (Brora, Port Ellen anyone?) during one of the worst periods in whisky history. Gordon & MacPhail, the independent bottler, bought the distillery ten years later from Distillers Company Limited (DCL). It took them a while to rebuild the distillery, but Benromach finally re-opened in 1998.
Benromach’s philosophy is what really speaks to me. Owners Gordon & MacPhail have an incredibly large library of old whisky, which they used as reference. It gave them the chance to try and create a whisky with an old-fashioned flavour profile, reminiscent of Speyside whisky from the fifties and sixties. What’s not to like there? Plus, they do everything by hand. Not a computer in sight, except for in the visitor centre.
Old & New Benromach
Because Gordon & MacPhail basically created a new distillery within the old Benromach-building, you should think of pre-1983 Benromach as whisky from a completely different and now lost distillery, in the same vain as the Convalmore, Millburn or Glen Albyn. You can’t really compare the spirit from the old and the new Benromach. So there’s actually no logical reason for a fan of the modern Benromach to also be enamored by pre-1983 Benromach, yet I wanted to explore the old Benromach as well.
New Gordon & MacPhail-era Benromach is readily available, but you rarely come across old Benromach from the DCL days. If you’re in the market for pre-1983 Benromach, than an auction is your best bet, so that’s where I acquired most of my bottles the last couple of years.
Now whisky is all about enjoying it with other enthusiasts, so a couple of weeks ago I opened a batch of my old Benromach bottlings and held an awesome tasting with a dozen or so whisky friends. Ranging from 1970 to 1982, all of them bottled over twelve years ago. Some official bottlings, but also indies bottled by Cadenhead and Gordon & MacPhail.
In the next couple of weeks I’ll share with you what we tasted during that fine evening of pre-1983 Benromach extravaganza. And I’ll also add tasting notes on two modern Benromach’s I filled straight from the cask at the distillery. I’ll start tomorrow with the special celebratory bottling that was released for Benromach’s centenary in 1998. Will I see you there?
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.