In February 2015 I read a “game-changing” review by @MaltActivist. I had tried the standard Benromach 10 a couple of years earlier (prior to the rebranding) and it was good, especially with milk chocolate. But the way he described this whisky it became a must have for me. Here are links to his review and video:
Just over a year after I read the review, my brother told me he would be stopping in London for a few days with his family (2 adults….2280 ccs of spirit!) in March and would be willing to bring over anything that I might want to order that I couldn’t get here. I was shocked to find this available AND reasonably priced. Although it came into my possession in March it took all the willpower I could muster to wait another 2 months and open this bottle at the Ontario Summit. I found it quite enjoyable but it was in the context of 39 other spirits I tried that day. This is my first chance to get back to it. The bottle has been open 4 days, gassed after first use, and is reviewed in my usual manner, first neat, then with a few drops of water (and then more water) and a chance to open up.
Neat – initially, as was my experience at the Ontario Summit, the nose appeared a bit muted. But left covered for 20 minutes it develops a beautiful complex, sweet nose. I get leather, white wine, dark fruits (prunes), granny smith apple. In the background a hint of chocolate, some tobacco (unlit). Beautiful nose! 24/25
With water- I get a hint of menthol. The fruitiness of the nose diminishes a little. Adding a bit more I get back some of the original nose. I like it better neat (22-23/25)
Neat – Rich, bicuity, sherry, chocolate, a little spirit. Very pleasant. 23/25
With water – Becomes quite spirity, also spicy. Some of the flavours are hard to find. Adding a bit more water brings out a mintiness, and a bit of citrus.
Finish – long, dry. Leather, hint of cocoa 22/25. With water, the bitterness lasts into the finish with a citrus-pithy quality (20/25)
Balance – Neat this is a beautifully balanced whisky, complex, with complementary flavours and aromas 23/25. With water, I just didn’t enjoy it as much (20/25).
The longer I let it sit after the second addition of water, the more it came closer to its flavour profile neat but it never regained the full richness.
The Modified Ashok Manoeuvre (only after adding water) enriched the nose and lifted the sherry flavours back towards the forefront of the palate.
Trader Joe’s milk chocolate did not impact on the undiluted whisky, but did compliment it after water was added. I tried it with TJ’s 85% dark chocolate only after adding water and warming and it worked very well.
Score: Neat 92/100 With water: 85-86/100
@MaltActivist wrote that whiskies like this are the reason he does what he does. I concur with his opinion. This is Sherry cask-matured Scotch single malt as it should be tasted.
I’m glad most of the bottle survived the summit. I think I will need to experiment to find out how much water this expression can handle. I usually like to add at least a drop to my high proof malts. My suspicion is it will either need a little more than I'm used to(like Ralfy), or simply a single drop or two.
Or maybe I'll discover I like it best neat, which would be just fine as well.