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The very first distillery that my wife and I visited while we were in Speyside Scotland was Speyside's smallest distillery, Benromach.
This distillery, owned by Gordon & MacPhail, was a distillery that I knew nothing about. I'd never seen a bottle in Australia, until Whisky Live Perth.
We decided it would be our first distillery visit in Speyside and would just do the normal tour, as it's the easiest to schedule considering the entire distillery is run by just 2 guys. The second distillery of the day was going to be Balvenie.
We enjoyed our tour, a lot, so much so that we bought a bottle of Benromach Peat Smoke for my father in law. It'd been my favorite whisky on the tour and my father in law is a very difficult man to purchase whisky for, and knowing that he likes the Islay whiskies, made us think that maybe he'd enjoy it.
That idea lasted all of about 12 hours before my wife and I decided that he wouldn't actually enjoy the bottle and might snub it. So we decided to crack it open that night.
Sadly we had to leave the rest of the bottle behind in Singapore in order to ensure that the rest of the whisky purchases would make it through customs as we were above the limit, but I miss that little whisky.
Thanks to Alba Whisky though I was able to revisit it recently. On today, the day of my second Christmas whisky tasting I cracked the sample bottle that they sent me open.
It's peated to 53ppm, which I've been informed is the same degree of peat as Ardbeg 10 year old, but it's a very different style of peated whisky. It's softer without the heavy medicinal notes so often found in Islay malts.
The whisky is fairly young, by Scottish standards, sitting at roughly 8 years old or so, and it's definitely a bourbon cask going by the color. Sneaky feeling is a 2nd fill bourbon cask, but that's just me guessing.
The nose is very enjoyable with a nice blend of Speyside and Islay, with ashy peat, vanilla, citrus fruits (lemons and oranges) and some slight mineral notes.
Time for a taste though, considering this taste has been about 6 months in the making!
Scooty ash, with heaps of vanilla and some very minor fruit notes hiding beneath all of the smoke and vanilla.
A mild finish ends the whisky, a finish filled with ash and citrus fruits, again the oranges and lemons appear.
This is a mild whisky, but an interesting take on the typical Speysider with the high peat content. It's not incredibly complex, but it's also a whisky that I'd love to see at 18 or so years old, to see what the whisky would evolve into.
This whisky runs around $100 AUS and would be a good little whisky for those looking to avoid the intensity of the Islay whiskies, but want a Speyside that's quite different from Glenlivet and Glenfiddich.