Peated whisky is definitely an acquired taste. A peated whisky gets its “smoky” flavour from bricks of decomposed vegetation (peat) being set on fire during kilning (a process which stops malted barley from sprouting). The smoke from the peat is then absorbed by the barley. Most bourbon drinkers take to peat like a dog to a vacuum cleaner, but it’s given me some of the best whisky moments of my life.
I loved the old Benromach bottle design. It really popped, and had, “The Classic Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky” in white script across the front of the bottle. Why classic you may ask? Well, prior to coal arriving by rail in the mid-19th century, peat was often used to kiln the barley, so most Speysiders back then were peated. Today, very few Speyside distilleries (aside from Benromach) have a peated whisky in their lineup. Benromach changed their packaging a few years ago. The elegant white script was replaced by bold, intimidating, red block lettering. Now their products look like a Soviet-era style vodka.
There’s no official age on the label, but it does say this expression was distilled in 2012 and bottled in 2021, making it (after consulting my calculator) 9 years of age. It’s also 55 PPM, so pretty heavily peated. This whisky ticks off all the right boxes. 46%, naturally coloured, non-chill filtered. Interestingly, it’s matured using only first-fill ex-sherry casks. First-fill, for those of you who don’t know, means the casks are being used for the first time to age scotch. Benromach prides itself on using only first-fill casks.
BBQ in a bottle. Sweet, Kansas City-style BBQ. The nose reminds me of Lagavulin 16 but with a little more oomph. Chipotle and brown sugar. Mainland, earthy peat. No coastal notes to be found. Really nice mouthfeel. Benromach Contrasts Sherry Cask was made for the sipper. Burning embers on the finish. Coats the throat on the way down. Quality stuff (if you like peat).