OLD Benromach 100 Proof vs. NEW Benromach Cask Strength
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.
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.