Balmenach 1988 Signatory Vintage

Balmenach 1988 Signatory Vintage 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/xile_ for a sample of this dram. He bought it from Keg n Cork.

We may have drank it all on him. Oops.

Hi. I’m /u/TOModera . I’ve been reviewing whisky for over 4 years now. And I have never had a Balmenach.

I have no issue with Balmenach. I didn’t even know they existed, honestly. Or if I did, I plead the 9th. Because I’m Canadian and don’t know which part of the Charter protects me against self-incrimination.

Aren’t I just a prized pig, eh?

Balmenach has a long history, starting as an illicit still, going through various other ownership, including the two important ones (for this review) Inver House (who owns Balblair, Knockdhu, Old Pulteney, & Speyburn) and Diageo (you may know them as the grand satan).

When Diageo sold Balmenach to Inver House, they did not sell the old stock to them. And that’s where this one comes in.

See, they sold it to Inver House in 1997. Thus we know that Signatory bought this old stock from Diageo.

Since the sale, we haven’t seen a Balmenach OB. At least that I can find. What we have found is that Balmenach is making gin now, Caorunn. I assume any whisky made there now goes into the blends, though couldn’t find anything else on that, so it may be going to Aliens as well for all I know.

None the less, this whisky is interesting, because it’s from a distillery we don’t usually have, from stock that they no longer control. So this could be very different from an eventual OB or future IBs.

That’s kinda cool. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

Balmenach 1988 Signatory Vintage 1.jpg

Price: N/A at the LCBO, but Keg n Cork has it for $226.96 (CAD)

Region: Speyside

Age: 26 years

Cask Type: Hogshead

Abv: 55.7%

Colour: 5Y 9/8

Nose: Caramel corn, white chocolate, fresh wheat, vanilla, lemon, jujubes, boiled peanuts

I initially thought this was a single grain due to the insane amount of notes. Really, really complex. Starts out sweet, and the bourbon cask is evidenced.

I used to think that anything aged a long time will have interesting, indulgent notes like this. That said, I honestly know that’s not the case. However if you served me this dram, I’d still probably believe it based on the nose.

Taste: Cherry, chili peppers, goats milk, papaya, truffle oil, mango

Okay, you know when you go to a nice party, and you can’t make dick jokes, and you’re expected to be classy and don’t pull at your tie. The up side? Someone is coming along with crudite and you’re eating it up. Then someone has some cheese, and you’re happy, because it’s fucking cheese and cheese is great. But it has some red stuff on it.

That’s what this tastes like. It’s eerie in how you get the creaminess, fruit, and earth elements with heat.

Finish: Peppermint, malt, cumin, oak, arugula, dusty, gooseberry, butter

Well that’s a different finish. Not as sweet, quite a bit of oak, mustiness, and odd flavours. Almost like a different dram showed up in my throat at the last moment.

Given we don’t have reliable teleport technology yet, I have to guess it’s still this dram. Very odd.

Conclusion: This whisky is an oddball. If you’re a fan of unique flavours, it’ll be for you. The nose is really good. The taste is balanced, makes sense, and immediately tastes of something high class.

The finish seems to be the little brother who stuck around but really didn’t fit with the older siblings’ group of friends. And he was kinda a dick. Not that I’m thinking of anyone who once heckled me during a reciting of Marx. Not Karl, Groucho.

I would buy a bottle of this… if I didn’t buy a different one already. If you’re looking for an older dram that meets (if not exceeds) the expectations of an old dram, this is for you.

83/100

Scotch review #495, Speyside review #148, Whisky Network review #806

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