Review: Balmenach 32 y.o. Maltbarn 1979

Funny, I never had a bad Balmenach and even remember excellent ones from the 1960ies, which needed a lot of time but then changed like chameleons. On the other hand, I didn’t

Small Batch Gin from Balmenach

have enough Balmenach whisky yet to judge the overall quality fairly. This stuff is quite rare. Check here for another winner which has just been released months ago. By the way, Inver House also produce the Caorunn Gin there (recommendable).

Martin Diekmann, former fellow Malt Maniac unearthed this 1979 version. As he is in the independent bottler’s business now with his Maltbarn labels, he stepped down as an active Maniac. This tasting note is dedicated to him and his young family – he just got married in that very barn to be seen on the label below. Heartfelt congrats from all of us at slowdrink, Martin!


Balmenach 32 y.o. Maltbarn 1979 – 2012, Bourbon Barrel,  209 btl., 53,1%

Comment: High class nose with clean crystalline bright fruits, berries and a pleasant pepper note on the side, altogether very fresh, slightly mineral and acidic/sour. The pineapple-grapefruit-coconut-marzipan-vanilla combo plays a beautiful tropical Calypso tune (ok, I’ll cut the crap – it is really nice). Also lemon zest, mango, kiwi, pear drop and traces of moss, ferns, summer flowers (echinacea), elderflower, redcurrant, flour, green tea and late green herbs join the well-balanced bouquet. Give it time and you will be rewarded (it might turn opaque). I adore this massive complexity that, nevertheless, smells simply enjoyable and accessive without being all over the place: this is what makes good whisky great. Let’s hope it tastes like that: yes, it does! A Speyside heart and a tropical body (how would that be for a woman?) in perfect balance and within a slightly sour ‚milieu‘, no water necessary. Ginger and dried flowers add to the mix, they are now on par with the tropical elements and the damp mossy earth. The freshness and discrete pepper amaze me again and lead into a long finale full of tropical joy (never trite in this dram), toffee and vanilla. Lovely! Martin, please put two bottles aside for me, this is a great pick.

Score: 92

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