A Couple Of Benromach Single Cask Releases For KWM

 KWM Exclusive Benromach 2004 & 2005

A few months back, our mate Andrew Ferguson put out a call to a few of the faithful.  He had in hand a few cask samples of younger Benromach, and an eye to picking the next Kensington Wine Market exclusive.  Over the course of an evening’s tasting, the gang came up with not just one winner, but a couple of them that seemed to be a cut above the rest.  In the end, with a little nudging, Andrew opted to purchase both of these casks.  

Can’t say we’re not spoiled here in Calgary. 

Benromach is a Speyside distillery, owned and operated by Gordon & MacPhail.  G&M, in case it is triggering some sort of tickle in the back of your mind, is known first and foremost as one of the industry’s leading independent bottlers.  The acquisition of the Benromach distillery, which had been sitting in a state of suspended animnation for years, took place in 1993.   This distillery is one of the few phoenix acts now risen from the ashes of the rash of distillery closures in 1983.  The first official Benromach releases under G&M arrived in 2004, and despite an output of less than 150,000 litres of new make spirit per annum, the brand is growing.  Might have something to do with the fact that the juice is surprisingly good.

KWM Benromach Casks (2)

So now…let’s have a go at these two single casks Andrew bought…


Benromach 2004 Cask #246 Kensington Wine Market ExclusiveBenromach 2004 (2)

60.4% abv     First Fill Bourbon Barrel     9 y.o.     258 Bottles

Nose:  Vanilla cream with a light dusting of cinnamon.  Orange sherbet.  Sweet bread dough.  Caramelized crème brûlée notes.  Faint, but very clean, toasted/smoky note.  Very light fruits.  Maybe pear or melon or something.

Palate:  Now a little barley up front.  Orange again, but with a little lemon too.  A nice soft light fruitiness again is lit up by a slow-building spice.  There’s a quick bit of cocoa at the front, but it’s fleeting.  Very clean, but long, linger.

Thoughts:  One of the more successful young non-peated whiskies I’ve found.  Not far off the recent Auchentoshan Valinch 2011 release in terms of overall profile.  Great cask selection.

Score:  89/100



Benromach 2005 (2)Benromach 2005 Cask #126 Kensington Wine Market Exclusive

60.4% abv     First Fill Bourbon Barrel     8 y.o.     245 Bottles

Nose:  Lightly peated.  An especially pleasing chocolate top note.  A little bit of BBQ sauce.  Touch of char.  Just a wee little bit of wood and dirt…natural and pleasing.  The peated malt shows through nicely.  Quite smoky.

Palate:  Chocolate covered cherry right up front.  Into peaty earthy notes and farmy grains.  Much smoke.  More oak on this one than its sibling.  A little marmalade, but otherwise not a lot of fruit here.  Having said that…it’s not really missed either.  Wait…a slight (oh so slight) banana note right at the back.

Thoughts:  Says ‘lightly peated’, but there is more of that smoky heft than I thought there would be.  M0re earthy and elemental than the 2004.  Again…a well chosen reaping.  Great age for this one.  Vibrant and young.

Score:  89/100



Overall thoughts:  Altogether different malts, but about equal in terms of overall quality.  No need to split hairs when it comes to scoring these young Speysiders either.  89 points apiece will do, I think.  The nose on the 2004 is just a touch better, while the palate on the 2005 wins out.  Finally…at just over $80 a bottle…a steal, while they last.


– Words & Tasting Notes:  Curt

– Photos:  Andrew Ferguson

31 thoughts on “A Couple Of Benromach Single Cask Releases For KWM

  1. Veritas

    I hear that the Benromach 100 Proof 10 YO (I believe it is called “Imperial Proof” in the US)has finally made it to Calgary at Willow Park, and is available for less than $90 in Nova Scotia.

    I got to taste about 10 mL of this at a tasting of this over the weekend. It was fabulous. I might have more to say if it had been a bigger pour (or if it hadn’t been my 34th taste of the day).

    Here’s hoping I see it again. Curt, any change for a professional opinion now that you’re on the mend?

    건배 !

    1. David


      This Scotch featured prominently at the Connosr.com members’ Ontario Summit this weekend. I don’t know how many different spirits were tasted, but at the beginning of the first session we did a Canadian whisky blending exercise and in order to do so tasted Deanston 10 YO. About 30 or so tastings later we tried our next Scotch, and it was the 100/10.

      It was fabulous!. I’m very happy I was able to source the bottle (I had it “muled” from the UK), and I’m looking forward to trying it sometime this month on a clean palate.

      Tabarak Razvi is the one who made me aware of this gem. Here is a very “philosophical” review of the whisky:

      Find me in Toronto and you can have a go at it with me.


  2. David

    Having another dram of the Benromach 10/100 tonight. I would love to see this reviewed here (hint hint Curt). Any chance of that?

        1. Veritas

          Not sure what happened to my reply – In case it turns up I’ll phrase things more succinctly:

          I find the opposite… usually what is free is actually not as good as something worth actually paying for…

          Good example: Last Great Malts of Scotland evening. All had age statements. All were free. NONE were fantastic.

          1. David

            A few years ago I went into CSN Wines. I saw my first Octomore (4.1) and was in awe as I had only read about them. As I gazed, someone came up to me and asked if I wanted to try it. I got a free sample, at least 20cc if not more. So did my brother in law. And it WAS fantastic.

            (of course, I ended up buying a bottle – that I saw for sale a year later $30 cheaper at a CoOp…oh well..)

            BTW, you forgot to say it so I will… 건배 !

    1. David

      No problems Skeptic…my cabinet is yours. I agree, though a bit pricy in Canada (I got mine through the UK), especially Alberta, this is an excellent whisky

        1. Jeff

          Yes, I did, and it clearly indicates that you think that water (and thus glass-strength ABV) makes a difference to the whisky.

          It’s not surprising, both because it’s a widely-observed phenomenon and because science backs it up – http://whiskyscience.blogspot.ca/2013/01/alcohol-strength.html – so, yes, for all the evils of dilution, ABV matters to whisky. You’re welcome, readers – this has been another episode of Whisky 101.

          I was just wondering if you could admit that ABV matters to whisky on the same site where you earlier denied it.

          1. skeptic

            Jeff, I’m gonna have to make this really blunt: Are you really as dense as you are trying to portray?

            You are clearly (and likely purposefully) confusing ABV with dilution. It has been clearly explained in other threads in which you’ve taken (too much) part that there is a difference between ABV and dilution.

            Amrut CS is about 62%. ECBP around 70%. Springbank 12 CS bounces between 54-58% . But all are full strength and maximum flavour.

            So the point that was made is that bottle ABV is less helpful without knowing the out of the cask ABV. (Just like, it should be said, bottling date is less helpful without casking date)

            Oh, and just because there are graphs and the website has the word “science” doesn’t make it science.

            Or is it that it was too quiet and you hate it when people actually discuss WHISKY on this site?

          2. Bob

            I think Ralfy has done a disservice to the whole ABV issue by equating alcohol with flavour.

            Personally, I think a better way to address ABV is not to ask how much alcohol is in the whisky (I DO believe the percentage is important and should be given for a number of reasons), but how much water has been added AFTER the whisky is removed from the cask.

            While I totally agree that the ABV IN the cask will have a role in how the maturation occurs, if we assume that the cask is emptied only when it is “ready”, the amount of water that is added (ie: the amount by which the flavour is diluted) becomes a very important piece of information.

            For instance, if you dilute a cask strength whisky from 50% to 46%, that’s a big difference from diluting something from 60% to 46%. So it’s really good to have that information.

          3. Jeff

            You can’t dilute a whisky WITHOUT changing its ABV, whether it’s before you cask it, or whether it’s before you bottle it, or in the glass before you drink it. If I’m “confusing” the two, tell me how to dilute a whisky without changing its ABV and its resultant flavours.

            Furthermore, cask-filling strengths are standardized at distilleries precisely TO compensate for hotter and cooler still runs so, NO MATTER the ABV of the new make, all product is casked at the same strength to optimize Angel’s Share vs. maturation curves. From there, you DO know the amount of water added – exactly the amount to bring it to its stated presentation/bottling strength. ABV levels determine the rate at which flavours are developed and the point at which they are later released. Short of recognizing that, what is the theory of the formation of flavour independent of ABV levels? Any chemistry behind it?

            “Amrut CS is about 62%. ECBP around 70%. Springbank 12 CS bounces between 54-58% . But all are full strength and maximum flavour.” – all are “full strength” are they, somehow undiluted? So Amrut stills deliver at 62% and Springbank’s at only 54-58% when Glenlivet’s range is 68-72% ABV? As for “maximum flavour”, what is its definition? The concentration of those flavours released above 23% ABV or below it?

            The idea that you know anything close to as much on this topic as Teemu Strengell, or that you can actually refute anything that is in that article, is the funniest thing I’ve heard this year. Thanks!

            Anyway, nice try, but the central question remains: does ABV simply matter “in and of itself” to whisky or not? I say it does, David has said it doesn’t, but he can change the flavour of a whisky through dilution and reduction of ABV, and a lot of other people can as well, so in what sense doesn’t it “matter”?

            I’ll go this far: I’d agree with the idea that ABV, like age, “doesn’t matter” in that more is necessarily better (it’s easy, because I never proposed such a thing in the first place), but the idea that either age or ABV is somehow inconsequential to the final result just stands against physics.

          4. Bob


            You seem determined to misrepresent everything other people write. You also blend falsehoods into half-truths. So I’ll not bother to refute your spurious arguments, simply correct your misinformation for others’ sake.

            Depending on maturation conditions, ABV will go up or down after casking. The mature ABV may be very different from the initial ABV (whether the distillate was adulterated or not). Fluid volume also decreases as evaporation occurs.

            There are some spirits that mature for a long time and the ABV does drop into the mid-to-low 40s.

            I think that the point well-made by David and obfuscated by you is that a cask strength spirit with an ABV of 45% will have a lot more concentrated flavour than a spirit with a cask strength of 60% that is watered down to 45%.

            So if it is a non-cask strength spirit, it is very helpful to know what the original cask strength was. It lets you know how much water was added and how much flavour was diluted.

            Information helps. This is a fact. As someone who is clamoring for more knowledge I’m surprised you don’t agree.

            Unless of course, you’ve changed your mind. Do you only care about the date the spirit was bottled? Or do you care about the date it was put in a cask. The principle is the same!

            Skeptic is right. About the density issue…

          5. Skeptic


            It’s not worth it. It’s David’s fault for giving a serious answer to a loaded question.

            Let’s just sit back and enjoy a dram, wherever you are, and ignore him.

            Strike 2 Jeff.

          6. Jeff

            I’m not arguing that more information isn’t better or that ABV tells you everything; I’m only arguing that ABV, in itself, matters to whisky, on a chemical level at the forming of flavours and, by dilution, on release of flavours; am I right or wrong?

    1. Bob

      I note you say this is not a CS whisky. I suppose 100 proof doesn’t mean barrel strength.

      I guess it would be good to know what the original strength was before it was diluted to 57%, though this might be different slightly for different batches.

      Which is why you make a good point. For any given bottle, assuming most people don’t stock multiple bottles of the same batch (though there are some who do), especially if the cask strength s not known (or even if it is), it is best to add water carefully until you know how much works for the contents of that bottle.

      I’m still not sure why adding small amounts of water to something that already has had water added (like this or a non-CS malt) changes the flavour, but I’ve seen it happen quite a few times…

      1. Chris 1

        Everything over 50% is called cask strength these days. I think the term has become somewhat corrupted.

        I agree, Bob, it’s quite amazing how the tiniest amount of water can change both nose and taste and mostly for the better. Oddly, though, some very high strength whiskies don’t react at all well to water and some at lower strength are very easily drowned. As has been said many a time, caution is the byword when it comes to adding water to whisky.

        As for the Benromach 100 proof, I’d love to try some. I’ve had several bottles of the regular 43% version and it is very good, so I assume with a bit more oomph the 10/100 should be outstanding.

        1. skeptic

          I think it is actually a different beast than the 43% 10 YO. Do they use different casks? I haven’t had the modern day 10 that Ralfy gushed about but he seemed to think they were 2 very different drams…

          Come to Toronto. I hear David has plenty to share…

    1. Skeptic

      Thanks Kallaskander. It does discuss alcohol strength, and was very interesting, but still it’s in a different context.

  3. Bruce

    What the —-?

    I thought this was a whisky site!

    Do you know what kind of a first impression it makes when all the comments are essentially mudslinging back and forth?

    I’m no stranger to the NAS issue, and I like my whisky numbered, but more importantly, I like my whisky.

    So David, Bob, Skeptic, just leave it alone, it just eggs Jeff on and I think he’s trying to be contrary.

    And Jeff, for goodness sakes, are you able t talk about anything other than NAS? Get a life!



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