Last night at a gathering of some fairly experienced malt enthusiasts, we sat down to assess a selection of whiskies.
One of them was the Benromach Traditional. I last tried this about two and a half years ago, just after it had been released, and I remember it being a pretty good whisky. My notes & scores at the time suggest I was pretty impressed with it. The vatting contained casks of quite young Benromach, balanced with some beautiful older casks dating back before Benromach's long mothballing. Given the complexity, spices, and even hint of smoke that used
to be there, many of us suspected at the time that the proportion of older whisky in the vatting must have been reasonably generous.
However, last night was a massive
disappointment. The whisky had almost no
flavour, a very flat nose, and absolutely no spice, no smoke, and no complexity. The only note everyone got was a mild cereal character, and that was it. The average score from the group was 5.5!
The whisky was clearly and obviously very young, and if there was any older whisky in the vatting, it was undetectable.
Once again, this is a great example of what happens too often in this industry: A distillery or bottler launches a new expression and it's great. It builds a reputation and carves a niche in the market, and then two or three years later, the bottler cannot (or chooses not to) maintain the same quality, and the whisky suddenly goes hugely downhill.
In all honesty, I thought last night's Benromach Traditional was one of the most ordinary and least appealing single malts I've ever tasted, and my opinion was shared by most, if not all, of the other 10 colleagues I had around the table. Shame, Gordon & MacPhail, shame. Either start putting more of your older casks back into the vatting, or give the expression an age statement (5 years?) so that we know we're buying a young and tasteless whisky.