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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Benromach Golden Promise Whisky Review!

That's not innuendo, I promise. See what I did there?

Golden Promise is actually a type / strain of barley, which has fallen out of favour with most whisky distilleries, thanks to it's low yield and vulnerability to disease, in favour of more efficient and reliable strains. Highly regarded for it's flavour, Golden Promise can still be found in Glengoyne and Macallan distilleries in their whisky production, and it is more widely used by breweries, mostly for fuller-flavoured beers such as India Pale Ales (IPAs).

Benromach distillery decided to revive this older-style malt for their 'Origins' series, which looked at how relatively small changes in the production process can result in relatively large differences in the finished whisky. They have produced two different batches of Golden Promise in this series, batch 1 and batch 5. The sample I'm reviewing is from batch 5, which was distilled in 2005 and bottled in 2013, but there are still a few bottles around, and it's a very interesting whisky.

That Golden Promise barley was lightly peated to around 12 ppm, like most Benromach expressions (with one exception) and after maturing in American oak (not European) sherry casks, it was bottled at the decent strength of 50%. It's definitely natural colour (Benromach do not add colouring), but unfortunately I can't find any clear indication on the almighty google as to whether it's been chill filtered or not.

Nonetheless, I'm a big fan of both versions of Benromach's 10yo, and the heavily-peated Peat Smoke, so it'll be interesting to see just how different this one is compared to the 'house style'. Let's get to it!
Benromach Golden Promise 2005, 50%, Forres, Speyside, Scotland. 
Distilled in 2005, bottled in 2013. Matured in American oak ex-sherry casks.

Colour: Very pale gold. 

Nose: Grassy - fresh cut grass. Lemon-flavoured boiled lollies/sweets. Dry grasses as well, and some vegetable chips. Hint of cola, but the cheap & slightly dusty-tasting kind. A little prickly as well. 

Texture: Light, a little hot. 

Taste: A little dry smoke up front, then a big whack of chilli. Chilli powder, to be specific. Slightly grassy & herbal behind, and a hint of dry peat, but it's dominated by that heat. Tongue tingling, raw alcohol heat. It's not the hottest whisky I've tasted, far from it. But nothing else puts up much of a fight, so unfortunately it's the star of the show. 

Finish: Short, and still hot. A little dry barley as well. 

Score: 2 out of 5.

Notes: Definitely too young, in my opinion, or perhaps it needed some fresher casks. But then the character of that Golden Promise barley may have been lost, so perhaps that would not have helped either. I can't say I picked up a lot of barley influence anyway, but that could be down to me. 

I should add that I opened this sample a while ago, so that may have had something to do with it, but I can't be sure. I even tried adding water, something I pretty much never do, to see what sort of a difference it would make. It dampened the heat a little, as you'd expect, but it didn't bring out any considerable change or boost in flavour. Nonetheless, it was interesting to try a whisky made from a specific type of barley, it's not something you see very often. 

As always this is just my opinion, and this is definitely the only Benromach I've come across that I haven't totally enjoyed. A big thanks to Alba Whisky for the sample, sorry it took me so long to get around to reviewing it. Shame it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment of course, but I have to call 'em as I see 'em!

Cheers!