Balmenach 13, 2008-2021, Oloroso butt, 53.3% – Hart Brothers

I’m not sure if it is me, but I had the idea Hart Brothers was a bottler from years ago that had more or less ceased to bring out new bottlings. Until last year that was, since there suddenly was that GlenDronach Sherry cask for the Netherlands.

Apparantly, when I think a little bit harder, I realize I’m quite wrong since I also had a bottle of Bowmore that I bought after tasting it at Hielander some years ago. So, Hart Brothers never really left, but they didn’t get much attention either. At least, not in The Netherlands.

Anyway, now there’s this Balmenach, from a first fill sherry butt. I’ve not had many Balmenachs over the years, but I do fondly remember an SMWS one at a ridiculous ABV that I found really good.

Image from Whiskybase

This strangely smells like a very young brandy from virgin oak instead of a 13 year old whisky from sherry casks. Lots of fruit distillate, with quite some hints of copper. Fresh oak with some ginger-like spiciness.

The palate brings more typical whisky flavors, with a very and peppery dryness, as well as oloroso spiciness. It’s quite hot for a whisky at ‘just’ 53%, with chili peppers. There’s a slight bitterness that combines with dried prunes. After a little while it gets a bit more syrupy and thick, and sweet.

The combination of the palate and the nose makes the finish. The sweetness and fruit from the palate and the brandy like dryness from the nose. It works quite well here.

I really have to think about whether I like this whisky or not. In a way, it’s not bad, but it’s also not what you would expect from any whisky, especially not a scotch. If tasted blind, I would have guessed it to be some weird French distillate instead of a single malt scotch.

Individually, there’s something to say for the nose, the palate and the finish, but especially between the nose and the palate, there’s just a huge gap in flavors. That makes it a very unbalanced dram.

In short, it’s not bad, but it doesn’t make any sense. If I want a sherry cask matured whisky, this is not what I mean.

80/100 I guess

Available in The Netherlands for around € 100


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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