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Issue 88 - Striking a balance

Whisky Magazine Issue 88
June 2010


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Striking a balance

Benromach is a small distillery but it's starting to punch above its weight. As Dominic Roskrow reports, it's a perfect balance of old and new.

Looking after a distillery is a little like bringing up a child. You have to see it through its infant years, then through school and then finally to college or university. Then it leaves home and comes out from under your wing and makes its own way in the world.

“We're at the leaving home stage for Benromach. We have looked after it and helped it grow up, and now it's starting to make its own way in the world.” As a summary of where Benromach Distillery finds itself in 2010 Michael Urquhart's is pretty much spot on. It's a small distillery on the fringes of Speyside, is independently owned by bottler Gordon & Macphail and its name helps maintain a sense of obscurity – uncomfortably similar to Balmenach and one of four distilleries which start with the word ‘Ben'. Despite that, though, it's starting to build up a reputation for innovative and outstanding malts – and when the new 10 Years Old arrived last year, the first made entirely with spirit produced since the distillery reopened – it metaphorically came of age and started striking out on its own.

Almost under the whisky enthusiast's radar it has built a portfolio of malts that is diverse, exciting, challenging and exceedingly well made. It doesn't shout as loudly as the Benriachs or Bruichladdichs, but Benromach is every bit as interesting. Despite, or come to think of it, perhaps because of its modest size, it's a distillery with more than a few surprises up its sleeve.

It was founded in 1898 but has had ...

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