I was recently lucky enough to be selected for another tweet tasting, hosted by Steve Rush from the Whisky Wire. It was a Benromach new release tasting, which, as soon as I learnt this, I had to apply for. I’ve always had a love of Benromach so being able to try these new releases was a real treat. In the tasting we were given the chance to try two new expressions. One was a triple distilled edition, while the second was the latest in their wood finish series, finished in Chateau Cissac cask. In this review I will be taking a look at the Chateau Cissac cask finish.
The latest of Benromach’s wood finish series, which will be released for sale later this month, see’s a continuation of their use of wine casks. This time the spirit has been finished in a cask which has previously been used for the aging of Chateau Cissac wine, which comes from the Haut-Médoc wine region of France, near Bordeaux. The spirit was laid down for an initial maturation period in first fill bourbon barrels back in 2009, and then transferred into these red wine casks for a finishing period of 25 months before disgorging for bottling. This release is limited to only 4,200 bottles and after tasting this, and based on a price of only £39.75 RRP, I would recommend getting one ordered quick before you miss out. Presented at 45% ABV this is another excellent addition to the wood finish range from Benromach.
This has a very vibrant nose with a lovely balance between the classic characters of Benromach with sweet fruits and berry influences from the cask. The first thing that leapt out of the glass for me was red apple peel, though this quickly became intertwined with the classic smoke character you get with this distillery. A dry, peat smoke, as well as gentler notes of rolled tobacco leaf and aged leather. Then the fruit powers through again with a huge array of flavours. Red currants, raspberries, nectarines, poached pears and a soft grapeyness. Then I got a rather odd note of Heinz tomato ketchup flavoured walkers crisps! – I do love a weird tasting note. This has an incredibly busy and interesting nose, wow!
If I thought that the nose had a lot going on then I was in for a surprise when I took my first sip! This has a big and sweet arrival with mixed berries, vanilla spice and barley sugar sweets. The arrival and development are loaded with redcurrants, cranberries and a crème de mûre (a thick and syrupy blackberry liqueur), all of which have been smoked. The spice builds through the development as does a slightly meaty and savoury note, backed up with bitter lemon rind. Warming cloves and nutmeg are joined by peppercorn sauce and a smoked cheese-like character – thanks to my fellow tweet tasters for that one, definitely in there! Then at the last, a rich, almost savoury, dark chocolate note and a building heat of pepper and dry peat smoke.
Hot and fiery spice is joined by a fading wood smoke, like a dying bonfire, which brings a lot of dryness to the finish, and a sappy green wood/grassy note develops. There is a load of warming wood spice going on here which keeps going in what is a surprisingly long but increasingly bitter and savoury finish. With pepper, over brewed breakfast and peppermint tea’s and some bitter bay leaf.
Well, I think this is another very interesting bottling from Benromach. In the tweet tasting it was a bit of a mixed bag as to which everyone preferred, for me it was definitely this. The balance between the distillery characters, wood and wine-driven flavours is pretty spot on. I found the ever-changing flavour profile of this dram very interesting and really enjoyed savouring it. I think for the price of around £40 when this is released you can’t go wrong. I know I will be trying to get my hands on one.