SMWS 48.53 Big boots fruity bruiser

Balmenach 12 Years Old 2001 48.53 Big boots fruity bruiser (57.8%, SMWS, Bourbon barrel, 228 Bottles, 2014)

Whisky Review

  • Balmenach Distillery
  • SMWS Cask 48.53
  • 57.8% ABV
  • £43.80
  • Score: 84/100


What they say:

Cask No. 48.53

On the nose the panel found a ripe fruitbowl of bursting with peach, cherry, tangerine and apple. Chunkier notes of perfume on leather, then Hoisin sauce, sesame halva and mulchy forest floor paved the way for a powerful grippy punch on the palate. Adding water relaxed its clenched fist: baked apples with runny toffee sauce, salted caramel and peanut brittle. Malted biscuits, hot chocolate and apple brandy flavours were comforting. They were reminded of party bag of strawberry laces, fruit polos, Reese’s Pieces and candy sticks. It ain’t dainty!

Drinking tip: Bracing!

Date Distilled: 1 November 2001 Colour: Old trombones Age: 12 years Flavour : Juicy, oak & vanilla Cask Type: First fill ex-bourbon barrel Whisky Region: Speyside Spey Outturn: 228 bottles

SMWS 48.53

What I say:

Sampled at SMWS Queen Street; selected as a potential whisky for a tasting at the University of Edinburgh Water of Life Society. The tasting was based around whisky from the lesser known distilleries that mostly produce malt for blending. So this Balmenach (SMWS distillery code 48) fit that bill. Unfortunately we were spoilt for choice and decided instead to select a refill ex sherry-matured Glenlossie SMWS 46.27  for the tasting.

Balmenach Distillery, Speyside

Balmenach distillery is nestled at the bottom of the Haughs of Cromdale in the Spey valley. It was in these hills on the last day of April 1690 that an army of Jacobite soldiers were ambushed by dragoon guards, as the Jacobite forces were ambushed during their sleep many were slain the remaining fled nearly naked, this defeat effectively ended the Jacobite rising in the Highlands.

The distillery was established in the early 1800 by the McGregor family and it changed hands in 1922, when it became part of a company that would become DCL. In 1993 UDV mothballed Balmenach, until 1998 when Inver House Distillers bought the distillery making it the company’s fifth and largest distillery.

The stillhouse comprises of three wash stills and three spirit stills capable producing over 2 million litres of whisky a year. The signature style is full-bodied, robust, herbal, savoury (ginger, oranges, pepper) with hints of smoke.


Light gold (6/20) small tears leaving fine legs


Vanilla, sweet honey, cereal barley grain, fruity apple, melon and greengage


Warming and syrupy in mouthfeel, this started with a light honey then fruity apples, juicy and sweet before a spicy white pepper came through, some salted caramel, fudge, butterscotch and toffee lead into newish tasting oak wood


Medium, drying new oak on a sweet honey or syrup


A young and pretty straightforward dram, not much ‘distillery character’ in here but plenty of pleasant fruity flavours. A great example of the sort of single-cask standard age and maturation type whisky that SMWS offer even from relatively unheard of distilleries.

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