BTC 2014 Sample 10

BTC Sample 10: Balmenach 8yo SMWS

Yesterday was weird sherry from Blair Athol. Not a lot of points were given out due to nobody having a clue what it was (except for Floris, for which he should get a well deserved applause. I’ll hold for a few seconds while you all do that. Ok. Tnx.). Today we’re back in bourbon or even virgin oak territory, from the first nose…

I think, now that we have honored Floris, we should leave yesterday to yesterday and carry on boldly into the unknown. So, Sample 10!

The first nose is what would eventually prompt my wild guess: very prickly, high abv, butter and burnt vanilla, a nose more akin to a youngish grain-whisky! There’s new spirit here, I think, but it is very very light. With a few drops of water and a little time white fruit emerges: white grapes, pear, unripe pineapple and lemon. Interestingly there is very little acidity, which I normally associate with this profile. With more water and time, suddenly I get chemical odours: oil paint, plastic and buteric acid? Later on, I feel the cask has worn off a bit and I may be getting a glimpse at spirit character: vegetables, green leaves.

The taste, at first is closed almost as much as the nose. Weak even, despite the very high ABV. A little new spirit (very mild though, no cabbage or cauliflower here), grain and sweet&sour fruit with a tiny bit of wood. With water and 10 minutes, the situation changes: I get a sour floral note, more white fruits just like in the nose and a mouth-coating feel. Even more water brings out bitter greens, lemon grass, a saline edge and green herbs.

Overall, I have little to no idea what to make of this. Score first: I love this. Clean american oak maturation, oodles of flavour when it finally unleashes them, great development and can also be used as a fire starter. As for the guesses: I’m pretty sure the ABV is 61+ and the age is below 7. Then, a stroke of what will either be named genius or sheer bloody-minded stupidity strikes me (edit: thaaaat would be the second). What if this is indeed as grain-like as the first nose suggested? What if this is more than 2 times distilled? That would exclude a large amount of whiskies, leaving only Auchentoshan, an obscure Kilkerran, some BenRiachs and… Bruichladdich. Which *drumroll* is a vegetal spirit, I always find. I’m taking the plunge:

My guess: Bruichladdich X4+3, Islay(!!), 3yo(!!), 63.5%(!!!)
My score: 88/100

What it turned out to be:

Balmenach 8yo SMWS 48.35 (whiskybase)
07.08.2003 - 09.2012
ABV: 62.7%

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