Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon First Fill and ex-Château Cissac
Added coloring: No
Owner: Gordon & MacPhail
Average price: € 48.00
Official website: www.benromach.com
Here we are at the 50th review on this site, a fine achievement that encourages us to drink another 50 whiskies (and to speed up the pace of publication)!
Let’s celebrate by talking about Benromach’s second bottling aged in casks that have contained wine: after the Italian Sassicaia, it’s the turn of the French Château Cissac, a red wine from the Bourdeaux region classified Cru Bourgeois (unlike our Grande Otre, I know just enough about wine not to drink crap, so I’ll give you this information without going any further).
Third in the Wood Finish series (the other finished in Hermitage, also French), the first edition was released in 2014 (with 2006 distillation), while the present one has been followed for now by the 2018 one (2010 distillation).
More than a few people turn their noses up at red wine ageing, for the (justified) fear that the influence on whisky will be excessive and disruptive.
On the other hand, the marriage between the subtleties of scotch (of some scotches, at least) and the brutality of certain red wines may not exactly be simple, nor can they divorce: the damage is done!
But with three different vintages already produced, and with the trust that I personally place in Benromach, perhaps this marriage is worthwhile… or is it?
The year on the label is of distillation, while the bottling was in 2017: we are therefore dealing with a whisky aged 8 years (of which just over two were spent in the French casks).
Unlike other whiskies from the distillery, this one has been chillfiltered, perhaps for fear of the excessive impurities caused by the wine cask?
On the nose, the character is sweetly peated, with red fruits, (red) apple and prune along with cereal (young is young) and a hint, just a hint, of vanilla. All wrapped up in a certain vinous tartness.
The opening is quite dry, and immediately introduces a soft side of tobacco and peat, more smoky than on the nose, which drags in prunes (and let’s add some sultanas), blueberries, apple and vanilla. Accompanying everything is a distinct salty, marine note and a hint of chocolate. Slight bitterness in the background. The blend of flavours and aromas is not very harmonious but interesting and certainly not boring.
The finish is still dry and astringent (very), smoky (we are in the area of burnt wood), of vanilla and a hint of spice, not particularly long.
I really appreciate the spirit of these bottlings, the desire to be daring, to follow different and even adverse paths, even when they produce a result that isn’t exactly balanced. It could have been a disaster, but it’s holding up decently: voting here, more than elsewhere, is very personal and subjective, you can hate it or love it.
I maintain an open relationship.