Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Port
Added coloring: No
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Average price: € 350.00
Official website: www.thebalvenie.com
A bottling born in 1996 thanks to the skills of Malt Master David C. Stewart who, starting from maturation in classic ex-Bourbon casks, chooses the best and oldest ex-Port casks to refine the distillate, bringing it after an unspecified time (“just enough”) to the overall ageing of at least 21 years.
There are two versions, one from the portfolio based on the minimum strength, and this one, made for duty free markets, named ‘non-chill-filtered release’, which I would say explains everything.
For the US market, there is a third version at 43% strength.
The nose sinks into a basket of ripe fruit, in which peaches, apricots, plums, currants and apples intertwine with intense elegance, crossed by a vein of beeswax and honey. Melted butter and nuts complete the picture, with a slight hint of wood and aniseed permeating the aromas. In the background, sugar icing and a faint hint of tropical fruit. Warm and rich, with refined sumptuousness.
The fruit returns on the palate with a greater incidence of tropical fruit, where pineapple and mango prevail over peach, apricot, apple and red fruits, driven by a decisive but not intrusive spicy charge of black pepper and nutmeg. Toasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts) and honey resume their role, accompanied by a light tannic charge spread over tobacco and leather, among which a perceptible vegetal vein emerges. Medium-bodied, it surrenders some of the softness of the nose in favour of a dryness that propels the drink, with red fruits that grow with time together with spices and vegetable notes.
The finish is long and very dry, with tropical fruit, red fruits, almonds, spicy peaks and a distinct vegetal component.
On the nose it’s simply spectacular, soft, sinuous, warm, while on the palate it reveals an unexpectedly decisive and energetic personality, but no less seductive and captivating. A higher alcohol content would perhaps lead to an imbalance of flavours, here we are right on the edge but with a dangerously drinkable fullness.