When I wrote about the discontinuation of the Benromach 100 Proof and the introduction of the new Benromach Cask Strength, it was suggested to me that I do a head-to-head comparison of the two once the latter was released. That moment is now here, as today the new Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 is officially for sale.
Contrary to earlier information that leaked via the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Public Database, the first batch is actually distilled in 2008 (and not in 2007), and bottled at 57.9 percent (and not 58.2%). Scratch that. The label that appeared in the TTB Database was actually of a version for the American market which is due to be released later this year.
The press release sent out by Benromach further confirms that the new Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 indeed is a replacement for the Benromach 100 Proof. This is what distillery manager Keith Cruickshank has to say about it:
“While retaining the overall flavours that Benromach consumers have enjoyed in Benromach 100° Proof, the new Cask Strength Vintage release will differ subtly in both strength and flavour profile, reflecting the specific casks chosen from the vintage year.”
The Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 has matured in first-fill Sherry and Bourbon casks. Only 5,500 bottles are available of the first batch. One of the major question marks up until now has been the price of this new expression. That question has now been answered. There will indeed be a price hike. While you can still find the Benromach 100 Proof for around 50 pounds, the recommended retail price for the Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 is 60 pounds. Not earth-shattering, but higher nonetheless.
Benromach 100 Proof (57%, OB, 2014)
Since I bought a bunch of these when it was first released, this is a sample from the first ever bottling run for the Benromach 100 Proof, bottled on September 30th 2014. The sample was taken from my own bottle, which at the moment is about half full.
Nose: Fruity, sherried and with those subtle smoky barbecue notes. A tried and true combination if there ever was one. Juicy plums, lovely ripe bananas and a sniff of tobacco and salted caramel. There’s maybe a hint of rubber, which I find adds to the complexity, rather than subtracting. Finally a touch of soy.
Taste: A quick hit of chili pepper, followed by dried red fruit and cocoa powder. There’s a whiff of sulphur, but it balances nicely with the fruit and smoked paprika powder. Not the most complex, but right up my alley.
Finish: Lingering sweet barbecue smoke. Long.
Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008 (57.9%, OB, Batch 1)
These notes are made of a 3cl sample I was gracefully sent by Benromach.
Nose: Rather a bit fresher than the 100 Proof, with notes of pear skin and ripe apple parts. However, the signature sweet, smoky barbecue aromas are certainly there, accompanied by cherry syrup, and whiffs of dried oregano. Finally also a bit of tobacco and caramel.
Taste: Undeniably a bit of sulphur (slightly more present than with the 100 Proof), but also black pepper and red fruits, followed by earthy, smoky peat. Somewhat salty, and ripe banana and dark chocolate make an appearance as well.
Finish: Lingering spiciness and sweet barbecue smoke. Long.
Both whiskies ooze that signature Benromach DNA, and the only reason I rate the Benromach 100 Proof just a tad higher, is because of the more present sulphur note in the Benromach Cask Strength Vintage 2008.
I love the concept of releasing batches, bad as it might be for my wallet. The Springbank CS releases are iconic, and I bet Benromach wouldn’t mind following that template. Benromach is never sold to independent bottlers, which sometimes makes it rather boring being a Benromach fan. Except for the many single ex-bourbon cask releases – which are good, but let’s be honest, also rather similar – sometimes there’s just not much new to discover. That alone is why I look forward to future batches of the Benromach Cask Strength.
Will you be tasting and reviewing Benromach cask strength 2009 Batch 4 in the near future?
As you will be aware, this is the current cask strength release still available to buy and which I am seriously considering buying at the moment to accompany a recently bought Benromach 15 year old. I am very much enjoying the 15 year old by the way. A very interesting, satisfying and individual tasing whisky.
I would look forward to drinking the cask strength independently (reduced down of course) but also to slightly increase the strength of the 15 year old if required and/or alter the flavour profile to taste.
Your opinion of it, and especially compared to the 100 proof 2014 and cask strength 2008 batch 1 that you have already reviewed and compared, would be really useful to have just now.
All your reviews are really interesting, useful and welcome.
Hi Richard, sorry, but I won’t be trying that anytime soon. However, in my opinion Benromach has been very consistent in their expressions from batch to batch, so I would be confident that Batch 4 won’t differ too much from Batch 1.
Many thanks for your reply.
Although sorry to hear you are unlikely to be tasting and reviewing Benromach 2009 cask strength #4, it’s reassuring to hear your positive thoughts on the likelihood of the consistency of quality and style of the cask strength from batch to batch.
I’ll be going ahead on a bottle of the batch 4 shortly while still available, and then be able to form my own opinions, although not by comparison to previous cask strength’s as this will be my first. Got to make a start on the cask strengths somewhere, so looking forward to this now.