Monday, April 11, 2016

Benromach 35 delivers more than just history in a dram...

March 24th 1983. Eight men (MacDonald, Anderson, Grime, Watson, McArthur, Cameron, Milne and Ingram) stood and watched as the last cask, #585, was filled and rolled out to the warehouse. Then, like many times before, production stopped and the distillery doors at Benromach were closed. 

Silent, abandoned and rundown it sat until Gordon & MacPhail threw their hat into the whisky making business. In 1998, spirits ran once more and so began the rebirth of the Benromach styles of whisky. It should come as no surprise that the same perfection and dedication has gone into this distillery as their long standing 125 years of experience as 'Spirits Merchants'. For more about either please click here:

I visited Benromach in the spring of 2015 and had the pleasure of trying several of their fantastic whiskies (there honestly has not been one that has disappointed me thus far, ask Eric Lewis - @Eric_B_Lewis). This year as part of my annual trek over to Scotland, I will be privileged to once again be at the distillery on Friday April 29th for the following event (only 4 tickets left): 

Where we will get to experience an intimate evening with the team, manager and friends as we learn more about the 35 year old they've recently released. The interesting history of course, is that this whisky predates the Gordon & MacPhail era and I was fortunate enough to receive a sample of the 35 year old for review. It was distilled sometime in 1980 and has spent its entire life maturing in first fill sherry casks.

Here is what I thought:

Benromach 35 year old, 43% ABV

My grandfather had dozens of these cans
Nose: I spent the better part of 20 minutes just smelling this truly divine whisky. Initially reminded me of my grandfather's old beat up brown leather recliner that he loved to sit in after he had smoked his pipe. The 35 year old is leathery with minute traces of his Sail Dutch tobacco. OMG, what a truly a nostalgic and emotional smell for me as my 'pépère' passed away many years years ago. After I regained my composure and worked my way past those lovely memories, I also detected dates but then that morphed into dried fruits soaked in a rich Caribbean rum which made my mouth water with anticipation. But still, I waited. This lead to zesty aromas that appeared. Fresh orange peel... or maybe Seville marmalade. Gorgeous nose indeed.

Palate: Nose fully tantalized, I was quite surprised by how oily and waxy this was as a mouth feel. Then some really interesting ripe fruit and wood notes I wasn't expecting. It had a hint of spruce tree. I was a bit taken aback by that, I don't recall ever experiencing that on the palate of a whisky before. But again, talk about nostalgic thoughts. Back to my grandfather and when he worked in the woods. 

Finish: Lingering, lovely onslaught of dark ginger molasses cake that we often enjoyed at Christmas. 

Maurice & Rose Aimé Doyle - Circa 1945
There is something to be said about a whisky that can magically transport you back in time. Benromach 35 did just that. It brought me back to where the people I loved as a child still existed. In the synapses of my mind played the old black and white movie of my early childhood moments and memories of pépère "Mossey". 

With every inhale and then sip of whisky came little things I had locked away years ago like how he could make me laugh until I got the hiccups every time. Being awake at 4:00am and sitting on the camp counter with my legs dangling watching him get his lunch ready for his day in the woods. We would whisper so that "we" wouldn't get caught by my mother eating beans/brown bread. Friday evenings at my great uncle Mike's house where family and friends took out their instruments and jammed until the wee hours lulling me to sleep with the sweet melodies and haunting reels. 

Benromach 35 will easily make the top 10 whiskies of 2016 for me. Not only was it a stellar, complex and satisfying whisky it was a dram that gave me back my grandfather if only for an hour that night. 

I found it so difficult to write this post because every time I would get to the part where I remembered laughter and dancing on Friday nights, I couldn't see through the tears. But then again, that's just how powerful your memories can be.

On April 29th as I stand in the Benromach distillery listening to the stillmen's stories, it will be very difficult not to go down this same road from an emotional perspective. Kat Presley will be with me, so that might make the moment a bit easier because after all in essence I'm creating my own memories now. 

I want to thank the people at Benromach for such a touching dram and journey. You have no idea how much that evening meant to me. To the rest of you, I can only hope that some of your drams open the floodgates and make you relive some of your own magical moments. Please feel free to share with me if ever there was a dram like that. Would be lovely to hear.

Cheers for now...

Mossey's grand daughter,


PS -> One of my favourite songs often played in the kitchen...  Please take a quick listen and see if you can make it all the way to the end of the song without tapping your feet or smiling ;)

1 comment: