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.  Continue reading


Balmenach 26, 1988 (Signatory for Binny’s)

Balmenach 26, 1988, Signatory for Binny's
Here is the last of the recent’ish Binny’s exclusives that I split with a bunch of other whisky geeks. I’ve previously reviewed a Glenlivet 19, a Laphroaig 17, a Linkwood 16, and a Clynelish 7 (all from Signatory); an Ardmore 16 and a Ledaig 13 (both from G&M); and a OB Glen Garioch 16. This Signatory Balmenach is the oldest of the lot (I mention this in case you are really bad at counting); it is, however, a year younger than mentioned on Binny’s website—there it is listed as a 27 yo but, in fact, it is a 26 yo (the correct age is on the label along with the distilling and bottling dates). I”d been planning to review this one a while ago, and I’m not really sure why I never got around to it. As a result, however, I am reviewing this after the bottle has been near the halfway mark for a bit over two months (nearly half the bottle went into the splits as soon as I received it). And so this review is not going to be representative of a freshly opened bottle.  Continue reading

Balmenach 25, 1988 (Signatory)

Balmenach 25, 1988, Signatory for Binny's
This is the last of the four Signatory bottles I purchased at Binny’s in September. I’ve previously reviewed the Glen Keith and Tamdhu that are Stoller’s Wines exclusives and the Auchroisk that, like this one, is a Binny’s exclusive. All four are still available.

I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Balmenach. I’ve had a few (very few) that were distilled in the 1970s (as, for example, the only other I’ve reviewed), and a couple from more recent decades. As such I don’t have the best handle on the distillery’s usual profile. I would say that what I’ve had falls firmly in the fruitier end of the fruity-grassy spectrum of bourbon cask Speysides. Having said that, Serge puts “sherry” as the first keyword for the distillery profile; but I haven’t seen much sherry cask Balmenach about in recent years. It is true that most of Serge’s Balmenach reviews seem to be of much older distillate so I suppose it may be there’s been some change in maturation regime.  Continue reading

Balmenach, 1979-1998 (Scott’s Selection)

Balmenach, 1979, Scott's Selection
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. Continue reading