Blind Tasting Competition 10: Balmenach 8yo, 2003-2012, 62.7% – SMWS

Another 0-pointer based on a weird Blair Athol. I don’t think I’ve ever had more than one or two Blair Athols ever. So, even more so than with the Littlemill, I wouldn’t have ever recognized it.

More so, I didn’t really enjoy that dram with a very strange and, to me, unpredictable wood influence. I would have sworn that it was a wine cask based on the nose, but the palate and finish steered me towards a port cask and something middle of the road, which BenRiach can be (in a generally very good way).

Balmenach 8yo. Image from Whiskybase

Balmenach 8yo. Image from Whiskybase

Vanilla and salt. Quite some vanilla, but also a touch of pepper. Quite highland-y, but that is not possible due to yesterday’s Blair Athol. Some bitter chocolate and espresso. I’m not getting any fruit so far, except dried lemon slices. Some coconut carpet, if that means a thing in English.

The palate is not overly sharp but more intense than 46%. I’d guess a 50-52% cask strength of some kind. Dried lemon again, with some vanilla. Less vanilla than on the nose though. The salt and pepper are rather sharp and there could be a small hint of peat in the background. Some oak too, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Some pineapple in there maybe?

The finish definitely has lemon, pineapple and salt. Some pepper, but more salt. The oak is very restrained. It might not be that old, which I thought based solely on the nose. The vanilla remains longest, with a touch of the fruit.

After a second sip I’m upping the ABV expectation to some 54-56%. It’s quite fierce on the palate, which I missed on the nose.

This is a pretty tasty dram. I’ll really have to start digging to what it might be, but my mind is wandering to maybe a Springbank, or Highland Park. Arran maybe. There’s so many options. But I’m sure liking this dram!

I’m discontinuing the Arran thought because of the salt. I think Springbank is more musty, generally. I can’t ‘feel’ any of the Islays in here (that would mean Bruichladdich or Bunnahabhain in this lack-of-peat).

Based on the fact that this has to be a bourbon cask, or it’s even a weirder sherry cask than before and I might just quit this competition now (I won’t), and it’s strong or at least tastes strong, I’m going for a Highland Park from some indie bottler. With its high ABV, I automatically am drawn to the SMWS bottlings and I picked one from them at 14 years old and 58.5%. Points given. Entry done. An hour and 10 minutes left before reveal. Not sure if I’ll be awake then, but by the looks of it, it’s going to be interesting.

Oh, this just keeps getting better. After an hour or so I’m getting huge chocolate and praline notes. Nice stuff! The palate stays rather similar, which is far from bad either. Maybe a tad more pepper. Great, great dram. I’m staying up and shopping at 11pm… (If affordable, of course).

Of course, I could not be more wrong. It turns out to be a Balmenach that NOBODY guessed right. The ranking is getting slaughtered, but it doesn’t matter all that much since almost everybody got almost no points. This is one delicious dram though. Unfortunately it’s from two years ago and therefore no longer available. I wish I had gotten myself one of those, but that would have been a major gamble. Great stuff, maybe my favorite so far.

Ha, at least I got the bottler right! Shame there’s no points for that.

Balmenach 8yo, 2003-2012, 62.7%, SMWS (48.35, Let the summer arrive!)


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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4 Responses to Blind Tasting Competition 10: Balmenach 8yo, 2003-2012, 62.7% – SMWS

  1. I just feel like anyone who puts a Balmenach in a blind tasting competition needs a good kick in the arse.

  2. Pingback: Wrapping up the Blind Tasting Competition of 2014 | Malt Fascination

  3. Pingback: Balmenach 1988-2014, 25yo, 54.3% – Signatory Vintage | Malt Fascination

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