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Benromach ‘Sassicaia’ (2006/2015, OB, 45%)

After seven years in ex-bourbon casks, the guys from Benromach decided to put their spirit in ex-Sassicaia barrels for 18 months – which the independent distillery obtains thanks to a partnership between Gordon & MacPhail and Meregalli, their historic importer in Italy and exclusive distributor of Sassicaia.

N: as in the Peat Smoke, we have a clear… peat smoke, and that minerality so dear to Benromach. The smoke is pungent and dense, almost oppressive not in quantity, but in quality, if you understand us. Chestnuts, chestnut cream. Next to it, a robust second personality, forged by the Sassicaia finish, is recognizable: there is a curious note, like those ‘perfumed’ inks: do you remember those multicolored pens from our childhood? Finally, notes of strawberry, strawberry jam, blackberry… Ginger?

P: very particular, the first sip offers a sharp and curiously inconsistent sensation: although the Benromach fat distillate is recognizable, there is a certain alcoholic pungency which, together with wood notes rather biting, helps to make it a bit loose. As descriptors, let’s definitely mention a nice peat smoke, strong and dense; red fruit jam (which curiously reminds us of a certain Port finish…), to close on a tannic bitterness.

F: long and ‘chemical’. The peat remains dense but, in the background, a kind of artificial strawberry remains.

Unfortunately we have to say this is a bottling not fully convincing, in spite of the Italic pride linked to fine wood: we’re afraid the wood and the distillate, so particular, intensely peaty and mineral, do not interact properly. The result is a widespread sense of incongruity. Not bad anyway, luckily there are plenty of other Benromachs we love the most! We’ll only give this one an 80/100.

Recommended soundtrack: The Chemical Brothers – Wide Open.

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