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Sunday, September 4, 2022

Balmenach 33 year old 1988 WhiskySponge

Sorry, this post arrives two days late. Life keeps blasting aside things I'd rather be doing. My alcohol consumption has dropped a bit too, as I navigate through compounding stressors. But I'm here now to close out my Balmenach week with a WhiskySponge release that has some real age on it.

Distillery: Balmenach
Ownership at time of distillation: United Distillers (proto-Diageo)
Region: Speyside (Moray)
Bottler: WhiskySponge
Series: No. 51
Age: 33 years old (1988-2022)
Maturation: refill hoggie
Outturn: 211 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
(from a bottle split)


Quite a bit of oak on the nose, though it works well alongside the lemons and guavas. Some saline and wax. Honeyed pastry and Twizzlers. There's also a slight medicinal tilt to it. The palate reads hotter than the ABV. Oak and grains. Pepper and bitterness. Hints of sea salt and lemon candy. But no development after 45 minutes. It finishes bitterly and peppery, with a little bit of earth and mouth-drying tannin.

I didn't anticipate diluting this one, but...

DILUTED to ~43%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Less oak on the nose, more oranges and dried herbs. Some citronella and talcum powder. Beeswax. The palate is also less oaky, or at least the wood offers more spice than bitterness now. It's still plenty peppery and salty, with some tart oranges in the background. Less bitterness in the finish, more citrus.


My opinion of this whisky does not groove with that of the Whiskybase community. The oak on the palate read out of control when the whisky was neat. Thankfully, dilution helped matters. Still, it was flatter and less balanced in the mouth than I'd expected. The excellent nose was on a very different plane, too bad the rest didn't match it.

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83 (diluted only)