Sunday, April 2, 2017

Review - Benromach Sassicaia 2009 Vintage

This whisky is the latest release in the expanding Wood Finish series from the small Speyside distillery of Benromach. All of the whiskies included in this expression were distilled in 2009 and matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks. These were then hand selected by Keith Cruickshank, the Distillery Manager of Benromach, and transferred to ex-Sassicaia red wine casks sourced from the Bolgheri region of Tuscany in Italy. The finishing period in these casks was 28 months. As with all of the Wood Finish series, this whisky is a limited edition - there are just 7,783 bottles available.

The Benromach distillery was founded in 1898 and is located on the outskirts of the town of Forres in the north of the Speyside region of Scotland. It was originally called Forres Distillery and was built next to the new Aberdeen-Inverness railway line. It was one of the last designed by the renowned Victorian distillery architect Charles Doig. The distillery became known as Benromach in 1919, taking the name from the nearby Romach Hills, and is currently owned by independent bottling company Gordon & MacPhail. They renovated Benromach after a period of closure and re-opened it in 1998, a century after it was built. The current annual production is 500,000 litres.

The Benromach Sassicaia 2009 Vintage is bottled at 45% ABV and is of natural colour. It will be available through selected specialist whisky retailers with a recommended retail price of £39 per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold with a distinct reddish tint and the nose has a lovely mixture of sweet, fruity and earthy aromas. Initially there are dried red berries, toffee and heather honey and these are followed by hints of ginger, cinnamon and subtle soft peat smoke.

On the palate there is an immediate hit of peppery spice (think of white pepper and a hint of red chilli) and the earthy peat smoke, which seems more prominent than on the nose. These quickly mingle with softer and sweeter notes that include red summer fruits (think of strawberries in particular), raisins, and plenty of heather honey and toffee/butterscotch. Further hints of orange peel, milk chocolate, something herbal (like hay but with an almost floral element – think of honeysuckle or jasmine) and damp mossy peat, plus a background malted barley note add even more complexity.

The finish is long and sweet with the peat smoke and malted cereal notes lingering as the fruitier characteristics fade.  The lovely toffee/butterscotch compliments them and the whisky is very pleasant and enjoyable overall.

What's the verdict?
This Sassicaia 2009 Vintage from Benromach is lovely and offer a wonderful set of aromas and flavours.  These combine well to create a complex, easy drinking and highly enjoyable single malt.  The quality of the whisky makes it even better value for money than it first appear, but the same can be said for all of the Wood Finish series that we have sampled to date. Grab one before it is gone.

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