My first Benromach. It just had to be the one I was bitching about because of the recent rebrand. About as subtle as a jock’s sport coat from the 1950’s or a cheerleaders football jersey from the same era. There’s just something very in-Caledonian about the look, something far more American graffiti going on. I want to call it Chet, I half expect it to rap its knuckles on my head whilst asking if McFly is there. You get the picture. Well, we’re not here for the pom-poms - go on, get in my glass!
Not really sure what to expect, it's always a pleasure trying something from a distillery never tried before. In we go. KA-POW-POW-POW! That was a wallop of bbq pork slathered in rich, thick, sticky molasses and smoked over a hickory grill. It’s cooking stuff. It’s sweetly baked Christmas cakes. Hearty, home made buggers that weigh a tonne and last till February. There’s bags and bags of cocoa in there, mashed up with dried figs and a dollops of sherry fruit and a fistful of dark Oxford marmalade. Some sort of strawberry jam, the last bits in a jar at breakfast time. It’s quite a good nose The ABV obviously helping - at 57.2% its a bit of a bruiser but there's none of the expected alcohol on the nose - this is all tasty ingredients. The moment it think I’ve nailed it down, something else pops up. It’s very dense and rich.
In the mouth neat. Instant arrival powers itself across the palate. The ABV is delivering the flavours turning it all up to 11. Sweet. Sherry. Dark fruit. Coca-Cola. Cocoa. Treacle. It’s very direct. I wasn’t expecting this. I mean, I kind of was from the nose, but the bottle doesn’t make me think it’s going to taste like this. Is this why there was such a fuss? As it reaches the middle of the sip the flavour takes a turn away from sweet and veers towards a dark sweet coffee. A bit of tannin and wood astringency and a zing of peppery heat, more sherry. Yummy. Ends well on cocoa and coffee and the darkest tobacco and baking spices. With water more dark fruits and much more dark treacle! What a winner.
So, The school jock is a crowd pleaser, at least in my book. This is a warming, comforting, enveloping whisky. It’s a bit full on neat and actually delivers greater things with a splash of water. It opens it up in all directions and helps tame the spice and at the same time allows some of the more hidden flavours to make an appearance.
Maybe it can be accused of lacking any kind of subtlety, it's anything but restrained. It's got the radio turned up, windows rolled down, sunglasses on and not a single fuck given. That rebrand is making more sense now.
Worth the money? Yes. Delicious. Sticky. Sweet. As subtle as a brick.