Balmenach, in the Speyside, is another not very well known distillery. It is part of the Inver House group along with more famous stablemates Old Pulteney and Balblair. It doesn’t get official releases as a single malt and so once again we must look to the indies, and once again to Scott’s Selection. I read a rumour recently, by the way, that Scott’s Selection is closing down as a label. Too bad if it’s true, though it does explain why nothing new seems to have come from them to the US in some years.
Balmenach 1979-1998 (59.6%; Scott’s Selection; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A little spirity at first but then gets malty with a little bit of honey thrown in. Some grassiness too and a minerally, almost plasticky note–that last turns into something a bit medicinal (not phenolic but uncoated tablet). With more time it gets sweeter (honey) and there’s a hint of lime and pepper as well (something prickly at any rate). Water emphasizes the sweetness.
Palate: The malty sweetness leads with the honey and hints of peppery lime following behind. In other words, just as on the nose. There’s a little more fruit here though with tart apples and a touch of gooseberry. Very drinkable at full strength. The lime/acid is far more pronounced with the second and third sip. Water softens up the mouthfeel some more and expands the malty/honeyed sweetness.
Finish: Medium. No new development as such: the lime and pepper are what hang around the longest. Not much change with water.
Comments: This is not terribly distinctive but it is rather nice. A balanced, easy-drinking, not overpoweringly fruity malt. Most evenings it is something like this that you want to drink.
Rating: 85 points.
Thanks to bpbleus for the sample.