|Balvenie, 12-year-old DoubleWood (Scotland) |
Initially filled into in ex-Bourbon casks, DoubleWood is then transferred into former Sherry casks for the final two years or so of maturation. Nuts and spicy malt on the nose, with banana, vanilla and Sherry. Full-bodied, with soft fruit, vanilla, Sherry, cinnamon and a hint of peat on the palate. Dry and spicy in a luxurious, lengthy finish.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £30.00, widely available.
|Balvenie, 21-year-old PortWood (Scotland) |
This 21-year-old expression of Balvenie from the ‘sister’ distillery to Glenfiddich has been finished for a period in 30-year-old port pipes. The nose is soft, warming and creamy, with ripe fruits, vanilla and a smoky, musky red wine note. Full-bodied and rich on the silky palate; subtly spiced, drying steadily to nutty oak, with fruity wine notes to the last.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £75.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Balvenie Peated Cask 17-year-old (Scotland) |
William Grant & Sons’ Balvenie single malt has seen a significant number of what the marketing folk call ‘range extensions’ during the past few years, and the latest is Peated Cask. It comprises a mixture of 17-year-old Balvenie matured in new wood and 17-year-old Balvenie that has been finished in casks which previously contained a batch of heavily-peated Balvenie, distilled in 2001 and not so far released.
According to Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart, “There is peatiness in the expression, but you still get the honey and other essential Balvenie characteristics coming through when you sample it.”
Vanilla, fresh fruit and floral notes on the nose, with some leaf mulch and just a hint of sweet wood smoke. The palate is initially spicy, with fresh oak, toffee and cloves. Developing spicy mango, soot and peat notes. Medium length in the finish, with lots of ginger and black pepper at the very end.
43.0% ABV, 70cl, £71.99, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, DoubleWood 17 Year Old (Scotland) |
The Balvenie’s 12-year-old DoubleWood has proved to be extremely successful, and to coincide with Malt Master David Stewart’s 50 years of service with distiller owners William Grant & Sons Ltd, a new 17-year-old variant has just been launched, created by the Malt Master himself.
The whisky in question spent 17 years maturing in ex-Bourbon casks before a final few months of European Sherry cask maturation, and the outcome is a quintessential Balvenie, slightly silkier and more profound than its younger sibling.
Honey, malt, vanilla, unripe bananas and green apples on the nose. Smooth and well-mannered. The palate majors in fresh fruits, vanilla, creamy spices and cloves. The finish is medium to long, with more honey and vanilla, plus aniseed and warming oak.
43.0% ABV, 70cl, £80.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Forty (Scotland) |
In addition to Peated Cask, The Balvenie has also released a 40-year-old expression, aged in a mixture of seven ex-Sherry casks and refill hogsheads. Just 150 hand-numbered bottles are available, and are exclusive to travel retail outlets at selected international airports.
According to Malt Master David Stewart, “The Balvenie’s enduring commitment to quality and craftsmanship ensured any casks with the potential to mature beautifully for many decades are allowed to continue doing so. This has also meant we’re fortunate enough to have some highly aged casks at The Balvenie distillery which we’re proud to be able to offer to single malt enthusiasts the world over. The rich flavour and unique characteristics of The Balvenie Forty are the result of this careful preparation and craftsmanship.”
Rich, mellow and beautifully balanced on the nose. Sweet, with oak, sultanas, peaches, honey, vanilla and a whiff of worn leather. The palate is vibrant and luscious, with ginger, stewed fruits and developing bitter chocolate. Slowly and elegantly drying in the finish, with aniseed and liquorice sticks.
48.5% ABV, 70cl, £2,500.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
|Balvenie, Madeira Cask 17-year-old (Scotland) |
This month sees the launch of The Balvenie Madeira Cask 17 Year Old, which follows up on last year’s limited release Balvenie Rum Cask 17 Year Old.
The Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart says that “Each bottling is its own alchemy of spirit, wood and time, but knowing how well port and Oloroso Sherry cask maturation complements The Balvenie’s honeyed sweetness we were sure that a Madeira cask would produce interesting results. The 17-year-old whisky extracted some wonderful rich spice and distinct raisin flavours from the Madeira cask, which we hope malt enthusiasts will enjoy discovering in the glass.”
Where the use of former rum casks for finishing purposes gave The Balvenie a rich sweetness, the use of ex-Madeira casks provides a spicy counterpoint. Warm and sweet on the nose, with spicy vanilla, cinnamon and stewed apples. Full-bodied and fruity on the palate, with notes of vanilla and dates. The finish is long and initially sweet, with a developing dry oakiness.
43.0% ABV, 70cl, £69.99, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Roasted Malt 14-Year-Old (Scotland) |
The latest release from Balvenie distillery in Dufftown is The Balvenie Roasted Malt, the first single malt Scotch whisky to be made using a batch of dark, roasted malted barley, more commonly used in the production of stout.
In the summer of 1992, a batch of barley was germinated over 24 hours (as opposed to the usual five days) before being kiln dried. It was then heated in a roasting drum at a temperature of 200oC and mixed with traditional malted barley, prior to the mashing stage. The barley was completely roasted to between 1600 and 1800 European Brewing Colour (EBC) units. Normal malted barley only reaches around 30 EBCs.
Made from a single batch of just 43 casks, The Balvenie Roasted Malt is a limited edition, and is not chill-filtered prior to bottling.
On the nose, this expression exhibits the classic fruity, floral and honey notes that are the hallmarks of The Balvenie, along with overtones of spice, toasted oats, and a hint of vanilla. Smooth, rich and malty on the palate, with delicious spicy, vanilla sweetness, plus orange marmalade and fudge. The finish is long and beautifully balanced between sweetness and drying oak. Another exceptional release from this great Speyside distillery.
47.1% ABV, 70cl, £45.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Rum Wood 17-Year-Old (Scotland) |
The practice of using former rum casks for the maturation of Scotch whisky predates the use of ex-Sherry and Bourbon wood, dating back to the 19th century, and William Grant & Sons Ltd has employed casks which previously contained Jamaican rum to ‘finish’ its latest Balvenie release.
Balvenie RumWood is a limited edition, with just 320 cases due to be launched into the UK market this month, and Balvenie ‘malt master’ David Stewart says “This sweet and intense 17-year-old is an exceptionally pleasurable dram.”
The nose offers very sweet tropical fruits, floral and slightly oily, with coconut. Not exactly Balvenie as we know it, but a captivating nose. The palate opens with more tropical fruits, but now elements of Balvenie’s ‘signature’ character also emerge in the shape of fresh fruit, spice, vanilla and honey. The finish is long and sensuous, with spicy rum notes and sweet oak. Altogether a beautifully judged confection.
43.0% ABV, 70cl, £65.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Sherryoak 17-Year-Old (Scotland) |
The best-known example of The Balvenie to have been matured solely in Sherry casks was the 50-year-old ‘Cask 191,’ just 83 bottles of which were filled in 2002 with a retail price tag of £6,000 per bottle. This 17-year-old expression is altogether more affordable at £60, and has been held in European Sherry butts, previously used to mature Oloroso Sherry, and purchased from the bodegas of Spain.
The nose presents well worn leather upholstery, cloves, medium-dry Sherry and delicate liquorice. Delicious on the rich, ripe palate, with flavours of fruity Sherry, nutmeg, cinnamon and tangy spice. Water releases pleasing vanilla and oak notes. The finish is lengthy, with stewed fruits, tasty spices and a hint of oak.
The Balvenie SherryOak is available from autumn 2007 on strict allocation in markets which include the UK, USA and France. For more information see www.balvenie.com.
43.0% ABV, 70cl, £60.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Signature 12-Year-Old (Scotland) |
According to the distillers, “The 12-year-old single malt from the Speyside distillery is a skilful marriage from three cask types - first fill Bourbon barrels, refill casks and Sherry butts. From the Sherry butts comes rich fruit and spiciness; the Bourbon barrels add subtle vanilla oak and layers of honey, and the refill casks impart delicate, sweet notes and smoothness. The result of this union is a perfect balance of spice and subtle oak, deliciously enveloped in The Balvenie’s trademark honeyed character.”
Rich and malty on the nose, with characteristically insinuating notes of spice, dried fruits, vanilla and honey. Becoming increasingly floral, with soft toffee and a hint of sweet Sherry as it warms in the glass. Full-bodied on the palate, yet with classic Balvenie smoothness and grace. Vanilla, honey, Sherried cinnamon, nutmeg and a whiff of smoke merge beautifully. The finish is long with spicy oak. A great whisky. David Stewart has performed his magic once again!
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £30.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Signature Batch Three 12-year-old (Scotland) |
Balvenie Signature was created by Malt Master David Stewart, using whisky matured in a mixture of first-fill Bourbon, refill Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks. It is produced in small, numbered batches, the third of which hits the shelves this month. According to a Balvenie spokesperson, “From the Sherry butts comes rich fruit and spiciness; the Bourbon barrels convey subtle vanilla oak and layers of honey, while the refill casks impart delicate, sweet notes and smoothness. The result of this union is a perfect balance of spice and subtle oak, deliciously enveloped in The Balvenie’s honeyed character.” Malty and gently floral on the nose. Livelier and fruitier with water. The palate is smooth and complex, with spicy malt and a hint of Sherry. The finish is medium in length, with cinder toffee and mild oak.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £31.49, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Tun 1401 (Scotland) |
Balvenie Tun 1401 comprises whisky from six different barrels of varying ages, named after the marrying tun into which the half dozen whisky barrels were emptied and aged for a few months, before being returned to barrels and then bottled. The whiskies in question are from a 1973 Sherry Butt, a 1972 Sherry Hogshead and American casks filled in 1966, 1974, 1978, and 1988.
Sweet Sherry, raisins, sultanas and spicy vanilla cream on the nose. Full and confident in the mouth, rounded and notably spicy, with notes of vanilla, blackcurrant and oak. Long in the finish, with citrus fruits, a hint of liquorice and oak.
48.1% ABV, 70cl, £499.00, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Tun 1401 Batch 5 (Scotland) |
Glenfiddich’s stable mate of The Balvenie also has a new travel retail expression on the market, namely the latest batch of the well-received Tun 1401, the fifth release to date. Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart selected just five ex-Bourbon casks and four sherry butts from warehouse 24, marrying them in Tun 1401 for several months.
The result is a classic Balvenie which is sweet and syrupy on the nose, with honey, sherry, vanilla, soft fruits, caramel and a discreet, background note of liquorice. The palate is rich and rounded, with dried fruits, mixed spices and oak tannins. Aniseed when diluted. The finish is long, with plain chocolate and a slightly herbal, spicy note. 50.1% ABV, 70cl, £150.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
|Balvenie, Vintage Cask 1971 (Scotland) |
Continuing the democratic cask selection process used to choose the Glenfiddich Vintage Reserve1972, this Balvenie comes courtesy of David Stewart and a trio of former excise officers, all living in north-east Scotland. Stewart, Ian Milne, Gordon Cox and Tony Collins plumped for this 1971 expression, which boasts a magnificent nose: rich, honeyed, and leathery. Intense and beautifully balanced. Vast and complex on the palate: fruit, nuts, spices, vanilla. Delicious. A fine example of how, given really good wood, decent whisky can thrive into near middle age. 46.7% ABV, 70cl, £280, specialist whisky merchants.
|Balvenie, Vintage Cask 1972 (Scotland) |
To help choose this latest Balvenie Vintage Cask bottling, Malt Master David Stewart
enlisted representatives from the tea and coffee industries to put their extensive nosing and tasting experience to an alternative use. Tim Clifton and Michael Bunston, Vice Chairman and Chairman, respectively, of the International Tea Committee and Angus Kerr, Chairman of the UK Coffee Trade Federation swapped tea leaves and coffee beans for malt whisky casks.
Just five casks were chosen, yielding 744 bottles, and Stewart noted “The trademark honeyed characteristics of the distillery are very prevalent, combined with a gentle nutty nose and creamy butterscotch flavour with a hint of spice. The finish is long, lingering and sweet, just what you’d expect from one of our vintage casks.”
Apricots, mango and bubblegum on the nose, overlaid with soft malt. Delicious! The palate delivers exactly what the nose promises. A lovely, medium-bodied whisky, filled with tropical fruits and spices, but with a backbone of firm malt and a little smoke. Spices, bubblegum and slowly drying oak in the lengthy finish. Once again, proof that The Balvenie grows old very gracefully. 47.3% ABV, 70cl, £300.00, specialist whisky merchants.