Since Gordon & MacPhail breathed live back into Benromach back in the late 1990s, the distillery has gradually been building up a sterling back catalogue of single malts. Some come and go without making much of a scene; whilst others return again and again, increasingly with popularity each time. So how does the Benromach Sassicaia fit into all this?
The new Benromach Sassicaia 2009 is the fourth malt to take this name, following 2005, 2006 & 2007 releases. Although the process is roughly similar to the previous releases, the number of bottles released has been doubled this time to 8,000.
As the name suggests, the spirit has spent 28 months maturing in Sassicia wines casks from the wine-producing region of Bolgheri in Tuscany. The spirit in the bottle was originally distilled in 2009 – making it just eight years old – and was initially matured in first fill bourbon barrels.
The first thing that struck me on pouring this is its pinky-gold hue. The nose on it reflects its young years – still quite spirit-y, although the influence of the wine cask is obvious. There’s the aroma of red berries and candy floss, with Benromach’s signature wisp of smoke. I’m getting a tiny wee bit of nutmeg too.
The red wine influence comes to the fore on the palate. Lots of strawberries and cranberries here, with a pinch of white pepper. The sweetness is more subtle than the nose but the smoke is still there on the finish.
The fruitiness from the red wine is welcome, but I feel it sits awkwardly next to Benromach’s subtle smoky edge. Possibly if the spirit had been given a few more years to mature, then it would have had more of a chance against the big red wine flavours.
For more about Benromach and its increasing range of whiskies, pop over to the distillers’ website.
My sample was provided by Benromach’s parent company, Gordon & MacPhail.