A modern distillery with a pre modern twist – one where manual labour and much of the work from alpha to omega is all handcrafted. Here pressure and temperature gauges can’t be traced, computers and hi-tech machinery that automate much of the distillation process seem just a memory. An era highly relient on chalk, paper and pen; knowledge gained through experience passed from one generation to another; craftsmanship that embodies sight, sound, taste and smell, concocting the liquid gold that so magnificently glugs out of the bottle into your humble tumbler. Benromach, all this and much more is one of the smallest distilleries of the Speysides. Reopened on the 21st of Aug 1998, the distillery was inaugurated by Prince Charles; though purchased over half a decade prior by independents Gordon & Macphail,
The distillery has also coined a very unique expression – The Organic which is in no way mundane, launched in 2006, it’s the first certified Organic whisky. Not an easy task considering the distillery has to abide by UK Soil Association’s strict standards and regulations; one that also requires the distillers to age the new make in virgin American Oak, made from sustainably managed forests of Missouri.
Though usually mildly peated, this taint-free expression from the Benromach stables is totally void of peat. Better yet, this five year old spirit also lacks any artificial colouring, and is hundred percent non chill filtered – yay!!
The bottle is nothing short of amazing – the clean cursive fonts that clearly display both brand and expression; a drop denoting when the distillery was founded and various other nifty details printed neatly across the bottle. The cardboard boxing is solid and royal, bathed in glossy metallic copper with a thick matte finished olive green belt that wraps around its lower half – far exceeding what one might expect from the bigger more prominent brands
Eye: Deep Copper
Nose: Very floral at first, followed by vanilla, hints of mango, traces of grapefruit, citrus and cantaloupe. The charred oak though prominent is soon consumed by a concoction of cinnamon sticks, shards of nutmeg and pepper fused with the richness of milk chocolate.
Taste: Light bodied and crisp with the sweetness of vanilla, malted barley and caramel toffee. Though mildly dry on the palate there is a play of honey, green apples, some melons and nuts with the spice of green pepper, bits of menthol and char.
Finish: Medium; Barley, cream with a mild spice.
The Organic is typical Speyside – light, floral and sweet; a pick for a warm summers day – be it neat, paired with ice or as a cocktail. The whisky though at first didn’t seem to ‘show off’, letting it open up certainly brought out a lot more lustre. Considering it’s young age, it does extend beyond the boundaries of normalcy but it hasn’t really harnessed the true essence of the virgin american oak, and perhaps a bit more time would have allowed it to complete full circle.
A decent dram no doubt, easily qualifying as a daily sipper. But for $100 AUD it’s expensive with not much VFM- the extra dough in all likelihood going into the luxury of having something wholly organic. And though the aesthetics were top class and praise worthy, with the spirit itself representing something unique, it did fall a bit short.