Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling , vintage 1998 , 19 yo

How time flies! It seems like yesterday when G&M resurrected the small distillery at Benromach in 1998, right? Benromach is now 20 years old in it’s new life, and what a splendid work done by G&M and the Urquhart family over the past years. Impressive.
Now Benromach has been making great whisky in recent years since the re-opening, investing in good casks, first fill ones mostly, and producing the amazing 10 year old, which is by far one of the best whiskies out there in its price and age group, making it very hard to produce even better whiskies, a problem not many distilleries have…
At any rate, we set out to taste the new 20th Anniversary bottling head to head with the 10, and the 15 year old, last night, in a tweeter tasting organized once more by The Whisky Wire. I was really looking fwd to this one, as this new expressions, the oldest whisky from the new owners, to date. Will it be as good? Will it be even better?
The whisky is 19 years old (and not 20 as some would suspect), as it was distilled in 1998 and bottled 2018, aged in a mix of first-fill ex-sherry and first-fill ex-bourbon casks, bottled at a nice Cask Strength of 56,2%…  Pricing is a bit steep: at 299 it’s quite expensive, but remember it’s a one-off, anniversary bottling, and thank goodness the 10-year-old is still very affordable (so is the 100 proof).

Benromach 20th Anniversary Bottling , vintage 1998 , 19 yo, 56,2% , £299

Nose: Quite gentle and floral, and very perfumed compared to the heavier, oilier, smokier 10/15. Not much sherry, and not much smoke, it’s quite delicate yet complex:  flower petals, soft unripe banana, some sour cherries,  and a nice citrus note as well. It will benefit from quite some water, as thus more flavors are revealed…  nice oak influence, but no smoke… or too subtle to even detect…
Palate: Sweet and citrus-y with spices, lovely wood feeling, vanilla, pepper, some fresh soil and some wood polish, chocolate, some cherries, and a very faint hint of smoke, if any..
Finish : spices, sweetness, toffee, treacle, wood and chocolate.

Bottom line:

So… What can I say? This is a very different beast than the 10 / 15-year-old. The longer time in the casks really toned down the smoke, and as much as I was looking for traces of that, I can not say that i have found any… It’s quite weird as I always associate Benromach with the lovely smoke / sherry profile and here, that is lacking. Having said that, This Anniversary edition is far from bad, it’s actually good, complex and well aged, But If I have to choose between a bottle of this and a bottle (or 8!!) of the regular 10, I’d go with the 10 without a blink of an eye. Benromach are doing such good work with the 10 / 100 Proof, that it’s really hard to beat. I am very thankful for being able to try this very special edition, but in my opinion only die-hard BR fans and collectors should opt for one. I believe it will sell quite well anyways. Many distilleries can only dream of having such a great basic lineup, which is so hard to beat. Lucky for Benromach!

Score: 87/100

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