Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Average price: € 60.00
Official website: www.thebalvenie.com
It rarely happens to Scottish distilleries, yet The Balvenie (“The” is obligatory, as with The Macallan), founded in 1892 in Dufftown, in the heart of Speyside, has remained in the hands of the same owner to this day. It should be remembered that the Grant family, responsible for The Balvenie, also runs Glenfiddich, built a few years earlier. The two distilleries stand side by side, not far from a 13th century castle called Balvenie.
In relatively recent times, the Grants have added a third distillery to the two, Kininvie, whose whisky, however, is rarely bottled as a single malt. They even took over Convalmore, using it to increase warehouse capacity.
The Balvenie, whose production amounts to almost seven million litres a year, has its own malting floor and, unlike most distilleries, supplied by the Scottish Borders, processes barley from the family farm.
The official core range lines up, alongside today’s expression, a 14 year old Caribbean Cask, a 17 year old Double Wood, a 21 year old Port Wood, a 30 year old and a 40 year old.
The 12-year Double Wood, here at 43% ABV (but there are also versions bottled at 40% ABV), spent 12 years in American Barrels (200-litre casks) second fill or third fill, i.e. filled with whisky for the second or third time after hosting Bourbon, and 9 months in European oak casks ex-Sherry Oloroso. The colour is a warm gold tending towards amber.
On the nose, the whisky immediately reveals its complexity. On an almost herbaceous substrate, with an impression of wild flowers, a hint of honey is grafted which is the trademark of The Balvenie. Alongside the honey, there is a strong but well-integrated citrus note and a touch of chocolate which, like a veil, makes a harmonious and elegant olfactory profile even more seductive. After a few minutes, a light malt note appears. In the mouth, along with the honey and citrus, there is a distinct hint of vanilla, as well as a spicy hint (perhaps cinnamon) due to the greater presence of tannins in the European oak.
The finish is medium to long, of honey and citrus again, with the cinnamon remaining to tickle the tongue.
When it comes to sweet tones, it’s difficult not to be cloying, but The Balvenie wins the bet.
Its 12 year old Double Wood is a whisky capable of tickling the taste buds of sophisticated drinkers with a nose of remarkable depth and a palate of admirable balance, and of winning the favour of novices thanks to an inviting body devoid of violent contrasts.
The Whiskey Wash