Balmenach 26 year (1988/2015) 51.1%

The last in our quest for great cask strength whiskies for around 100 pounds was from a distillery one rarely sees sitting on shelves.

We closed with Balmenach from the InverHouse stable… A distillery I now know better for their Caorunn gin than whisky!

Long have rumours run that there are plans to start producing official distillery bottles. I considered this session’s offering a sneak peak into what may come to more of us… in due course… hopefully…


Balmenach 26 year (09.11.1988/07.09.2015) 51.1%

Hogshead Cask No 3242, 192 bottles, from Signatory

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Smoky bacon, wet dish rag, high phenols, lots of pine tree, sweet leather, subtle, sun dried, sweet dry spices, more the hint of potential peat not smoke like vanilla scented candles
  • Palate – Lots of body, hazelwood, sweet, dusty, dry yet entirely pleasant, more of the cinnamon, nutmeg sweet spices, fruits and cream
  • Finish – Relatively short finish yet zero burn, a delicious spice
  • Water – Not required but also accommodated

This whisky was easy to enjoy, moved in one-way yet without a doubt the most interesting of the evening. In many ways, it was quite classic in character.

Like the other cask strength whiskies sampled, we set it aside for some time. In our revisit found oily bacon, less spice but overall quite nice and worked well with the cigars.

Overall, for most the Balmenach was the ‘winner’ of the quest and we would certainly want to explore more…

Billy Abbott’s tasting notes on TWE rang true:

  • Nose: Fruit salad to start – orange segments, apples, pears and tinned peaches. Sharper and weightier notes build, with oily touches joined by cut grass, vanilla toffee and raisin-studded shortbread biscuits. Softly floral waxiness sits underneath, combining singed candle wicks with heather and honeysuckle.
  • Palate: The buttery biscuits of the nose leap to the fore, with whipped cream and warming woody spice – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Stewed apple peeks out from behind the spice, and charred staves and earthy dunnage notes sit beneath. Water unlocks fresh fruit and sweet cream.
  • Finish: Spicy to start, softening through apple pies and poached pears before liquorice and anise revive the heat.
  • Comment: Layers of fruit and spice with even more fruit revealed if you add a drop of water. Old-fashioned fruity whisky at its best.

What else did we sample in our trio?

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