Nose: Bourbon-matured, cask strength Benromach. It seriously does the trick in describing this to someone who has experience with the make. I always find it funny how they put "The Classic Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky" on their bottles, because this is most certainly not a standard, contemporary Speyside style. Instead, you're greeted with a big punch of ash and herbs. In some ways, this is like smelling an ashtray that contains really high-quality menthol cigarettes. Additionally, there's a savory element, but not meaty or anything like that. Instead, it's earthy and vegetable-like. This goes with the ashy side, but there's also a coal/fuel note. Great stuff provided you're not expecting a mellow, honeyed Speysider. Water mellows out the ashy elements somewhat, but not entirely, and instead brings out more toasted malt. There's a bit more citrus now, too.
Taste: Very pleasing arrival. There's a little bit of heat initially if taken neat, but that's entirely excusable at nearly 60% ABV. The barley comes through here, and it's a nice continuation from the nose, adding some richness. This is more a classic Speysider, although it's not particularly sweet. While the nose may be slightly more interesting neat, this is better diluted. You're getting essentially the same profile without the heat. I'd just nose it a while neat, and then dilute for the actual drinking.
Finish: Some wood spice and mint.
Comments: I really like this one. It has an intriguing contrast of clean and dirty flavors, but the balance never seems misplaced. To achieve that sort of character at fewer than ten years of aging is quite impressive. I'll tell you what else is impressive: this is taken from a single first-fill bourbon cask yet I did not once mention vanilla or coconut in the flavor profile. The distillate is singing here, but the wood has done enough to make this a well-matured malt belying its age. I've been a fan of Benromach since having the OB 10 yo several years ago. This just continues to build up my esteem for them. I'll have to see how they do in sherry-matured single casks soon.