Balmenach 12, 2004 (Cadenhead’s)

[We’re off to Scotland today. In a couple of weeks I’ll have some reports, probably, of the parts of our trip that are whisky-related (not many); but to commemorate my first-ever trip to Scotland I’m also going to post more whisky reviews this week and the next than I have been since I slowed down my pace of whisky reviewing earlier this year.]

Devoted readers will remember that I went to Cadenhead’s in London last month and only purchased five minis. What, you don’t remember?! And why are you sniggering when you read the words “devoted readers”? Anyway, I did buy five minis. I did not enjoy the first of those that I reviewed: an Old Pulteney 11. Here now is a slightly older Balmenach, also from their recent outturn. This was the only one of which full bottles are still available and so if I really like it I might go back and get one. I’ve not had very many Balmenachs but they’re certainly capable of putting out the kind of fruity ex-bourbon cask malt that I really like (see this older one from Signatory); they’re also capable of putting out malt I’m not crazy about (see this other older one from Signatory). Let’s see how this one goes. 

Balmenach 12, 2004 (54.4%; Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection; from a purchased mini)

Nose: Peppery olive oil and lemon zest. The citrus note expands and then some sweeter fruit begins to emerge from under it (red berries, peach). After a while a mildly astringent note begins to emerge as well; with more time it takes a turn towards a floral talcum powder thing. Water pulls out more of the bitter, oily notes and turns the citrus muskier; pulls out cream too.

Palate:  Oak makes the first impression and then there’s the stuff from the first part of the nose (the sweeter fruit doesn’t seem to be here). Thick, oily mouthfeel. The citrus zest expands here too on the second sip and it gets more peppery; on the third sip there’s a plasticky note behind the pepper. The plastic doesn’t expand with time, thank goodness, but it doesn’t go away either. Let’s see what water does. It pulls out some bready notes and, unfortunately, more of the plastic.

Finish: Long. Pepper and citrus and a bit of oaky bite at the end. As on the palate with water.

Comments: I really liked the nose, especially with water. The palate is not quite as interesting—the promise of fruit from the nose is not kept—and the astringent/plastic note that develops (and expands with waters) does it no favours. Still, it’s drinkable enough and I wouldn’t turn down a pour. Okay, this is positive movement on my Cadenhead’s mini front—let’s hope the next one is better still.

Rating: 81 poins.

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