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The Benromach 10 has earned it's place among many folks' cabinets, as a solid bang for your buck whisky but one with more dimensions that are used to seeing at this age. It has that rare chameleon quality, each time you have a dram it seems to have changed a bit, one day sherry focused, another more peat and malt forward.
This hermitage finish is part of what Benromach dubs their contrast series, these are various versions of their spirit, be it finishes or experiments to show against the standard line-up of their 10-15 yr old whisky. It can be a smart way for a company that does not yet have many decades of stocks to draw upon, we've seen this used by Bruichladdich, Arran and many others but not always successfully.
This bottle was purchased as part of our club's selection on the strength of my experience with Ben 10, I wanted to use it as a contrast against some other sherry matured malts.
Nose: Spicy, paraffin, there is peat but it mixes with the fruits from the wine cask, it's like smoked blackberries...alas I have tried this time+smoker=smoked everything. Green peppercorns, digestive biscuits, honey drizzled figs, there is some sulfur like a tinge of spent matches and ginger. The nose is pretty tame, I like the interplay between the waxy peaty side and the fruits from the cask.
Palate: Sweet, oily, malty, earthy and bitter on the first sip, almost like Amaro. Damp concrete basement, slight barn funk, apricot jam, wet grains, again that feeling of smoked berries from the nose.
Finish: Short, a mossy and sweet earthy taste remains, a drying astringency like over-brewed tea, vanilla and dark chocolate.
I found this pleasant but the sulfur has increased with time, I feel like the peat saves it from being OTT. The Benromach spirit style takes well to sherry as we get from the regular editions, this wine finish shows some promise but it's not entirely successful. I am unsure if it's the style of wine used, the ABV or perhaps it would be better if they vatted some bourbon barrels in to bring equilibrium? I like it but it lacks the superb blending of the Ben10.