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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Cask strength quality? Linkwood 24, Longmorn 24 and Balmenach 26

Thanks to mad travel schedules, the Bombay Malt & Cigar club held our session early November… this time on a quest for cask strength quality below 100 pounds. All were from the prodigious Speyside region yet none were distillery bottles – two were from The Whisky Exchange with their Single Malts of Scotland series and the last from Signatory.


Here are the bottles sampled in our quest:

As for whether we were successful in our quest? Jut click the links above to read about our experience…

For more related updates and activities, check out:

Mumbai’s Whisky Ladies with Karen Walker and Caorunn Gin

To ease into our evening with Karen Walker, Marketing Director of InterBeverage Group, we began with a refreshing gin cocktail that greeted our ladies as they waltzed in the door from all corners of Mumbai.

Some chose with soda, some preferred tonic. All had their gin topped with a thin slice of apple.

Caorunn Gin (Courtesy International Beverage House)

Caorunn Gin (Courtesy InterBeverage House)

Caorunn Gin aka the appetiser

Here is what we found:

  • Nose – Like a perfume! Strong dandelion, sense of ‘branching out’ into different elements
  • Taste – Comparable to Hendrick’s yet more nuanced. Sweet, smooth on the tongue, complex with layering
  • Finish – Let’s just say, we all thought it was a brilliant ‘finish’ to a hard day’s work and a very welcome way to begin our whisky evening

Karen shared the care taken in sourcing and blending five local botanicals to make a gin that is distinctly Scottish, given life in their Balmenach distillery.

Without a doubt, the Caorunn Gin was a complete hit and several whisky women later blamed the sample for sparking a re-interest in gin!

Up next:

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