Tasting: Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling

Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottlingDram data:
Distillery: Benromach
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 1998
Bottled: 2018
Age: 19-20 years
Limitation: 3000 bottles
Casks: 1st fill oak casks
Alcohol: 56,2%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

20 years ago, Gordon & Macphail brought back Benromach distillery and started distilling again. To commemorate this occasion, they bottled a 20th anniversary edition of 19-20 yo whiskies, made during the first year the distillery was back up and running. Just 3000 bottles are available (400 at the distillery) and should be hitting stores at the time of posting in spring 2018. Since the distillery sent over a sample for a tweet tasting it would be a shame not to do proper tasting notes. Let’s dive in!

Tasting notes:
The nose has a bit of an alcoholic kick at first. This will work nicely with a bit of water, but let’s stay with “neat” for a while! There’s the tiniest hint of signature Benromach smoke paired with pepper and citrus – and then the fruits appear – strawberries, strawberry-flavoured gummy bears (is there such a thing?), red apples and red pears, condensed apricot juice with flower petals on top (no FWP!). A nice balance between cask and spirit, not overdone on either side. Time to add a few drops of water! Ah! That worked wonders, unearthing a hint of earthiness and a hint of oak, balancing out the whisky. A rock-solid, well-made dram. Let’s check the palate! Rich and juicy, oily on the arrival – and a touch of dryness too (which I didn’t notice when I first tasted it, interestingly enough). The profile is quite similar to the nose, which is very good to see. A bit of alcohol up front (but already tamed by adding water) with some ginger, citrus, pepper, a touch of peat smoke and noticeable oak influence (leather and earthy notes) thrown in. The fruits are back – a condensed mix of red apples, red pears, chocolate-covered cherries and strawberries! Oh, and some burnt caramel for good measure. Somebody on the tweet tasting called it “old style”. I can see where they were going with that description, it’s definitely not the usual modern, light “vanilla and coconut” profile.  The medium long finish has quite a bit of “bite” upon swallowing, with aforementioned fruits, light peat smoke and leather/earthy cask notes appearing in harmony.

Verdict: A well-made, nicely balanced dram featuring noticeable cask- as well as retaining spirit influence. Not an “easy” whisky, this is one for the advanced whisky lovers out there, which is refreshing to see. Fitting for an anniversary release!
Now, you also have to take into consideration that this is a limited, anniversary edition and as such it is priced “appropriately” at 299 pounds a bottle. Is it worth that much? Purely from a price/performance perspective, no. I’d take eight bottles of the very good regular 10yo instead any day of the week. If you are a collector of Benromach or you don’t mind what a bottle costs – go for it, you’ll get a very good dram. I for myself am hoping something with that profile will make it into the regular lineup as a 20-year-old in a continuation of the pricing scheme of the 10 and 15. One can dream, right?

Score: 86/100
(Nose: 87 Palate: 86 Finish: 84)

Click here to see all the Benromach expressions I’ve tried so far

Sample provided by Benromach

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