Benromach 35 year old was released in early 2016 from spirit distilled in the early 1980’s – long before current owners Gordon & MacPhail bought the distillery in 1993. Joining three other vintages (1974, 1975 & 1977) in the distillery’s ‘Heritage’ collection, the 35 year old has been solely matured in first fill sherry casks and bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Immediately delightful – pronounced furniture polish, beeswax, bees honey and bee pollen (all of the bees) are greeted most pleasurably by orange peels, old bound books and leather armchairs. Deeper, there are cider apples – fresh, but still with some citric zing, tobacco pouches and cinnamon. After a period of resting – which of course, with a whisky of this age and stature you’re going to be doing (right?!) -apricots, soft baking sugars and seriously old (but somehow still sappy) oak. Rather divine.
Taste: Unctuous and starting fairly sweet with freshly picked apples, tangerines and orange juice. There’s quite some development here, and first of all we’re heading in to sour territory with lemons, orange liqueur and liquorice. Just when you thought you’d grappled with the evolving flavour profile, it’s time for some bitterness – very high cocoa solid chocolate, pepper (particularly in the back palate), cinnamon and mild medicinal herbs. Throughout, some supporting flavours keep everything grounded – old tobacco (nearly of the pipe variety), walnuts, reduced fruits (figs and prunes) and delicate puff pastry. This more than delivers on the promise of the nose.
Finish: Quite long with orange peels, cinnamon and old drying oak.
Setting you back somewhere in the region on £450-£550 (depending on where you shop – and this is sold out in many of the more usual online outlets), Benromach 35 year old frankly needs to be excellent. Fortunately for all involved, it most certainly is – pretty glorious in fact. Old and austere in places, bright and tangy in others, this is a complex whisky that really takes you on a journey - through sweet in to sour and finally onto bitter – the whole time maintaining wonderful balance and definition. Whilst the bottle price is beyond the budget of many (most) whisky drinkers, if you get the change to purchase a dram of this, don’t pass it up. Outstanding.
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