An 8 year old Balmenach that’s been matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.
Nose: Overt new make rawness. Green apple, pear drops and spun sugar are joined by cream buns, custard tarts and pepperiness. But, the dominant aromas are unformed, coppery and feinty. Despite eight years of maturation, this is exceedingly underdeveloped – unless you happen to like radiator pipes and boiled vegetables as your dominant aromas. Dilution doesn’t so much change the nose as expand it – baked buns and pancake batter alongside kiwi fruits and gooseberries. I guess that’s an improvement.
Taste: The situation has not improved. Pear drops and apple Jolly Rancher candy sit with a raw, hot, boozy distillate that’s packed full of copper, glue, potatoes and ‘greenness’. Alongside there’s chocolate digestives, cotton candy and sappy ex-bourbon wood – none of which feel integrated whatsoever. Water adds some buttery cream cakes, white chocolate and gentle pepper. Better reduced for sure.
Finish: Medium with charred oak, slight menthol, creaminess and coppery minerality.
Bottling this Balmenach and labelling it as journey into spirit character feels almost satirical (or simply an outright piss take) - despite eight years of maturation it’s incredibly undercooked and offers less enjoyment than drinking a genuinely well-made new make spirit. The refill ex-bourbon cask has offered so little actual maturation (and was surely a knackered vessel to begin with) that I’m honestly shocked the Society would decide to bottle this as single cask. This does a disservice to the SMWS’s mantra of ‘lovingly selected, exceptional quality’ single cask whisky. A travesty.Score: 58/100