Whisky Tour & Review – Balvenie Distillery, Tasting 12 DW, 12 SB, 14 Carribean, 17 DW, 21 Portwood

Time to resume detailing our Scotland trip and this time – the 2nd Day in Scotland and after a full night sleep and hearty breakfast, we drove over to our first destination of the day:

Welcome to The Balvenie

Welcome to The Balvenie

We got inside where we met our guide Mr. David Mair and got served tea and coffee with cookies while he talked on the distillery and its’ history, showing and explaining what we see in the pictures that hangs on the wall there.

If you want to read more on Balvenie – try Malt Madness site

And on to the tour – The Balvenie do malt their own barley so we went through big barley mounds of different variants and the large steeping tank:

Barley steeped in water

Barley steeped in water

And the malting floor where workers were turning the malt. This time it was a small batch of barley.

The malting floor at The Balvenie

The malting floor at The Balvenie

And this is the germinated barley (after almost a week in the malting floor), also called green malt. Very tasty!

balvenie germinated malted barley

So after the barley has germinated we want to stop the process – so off to the kiln. And here I saw something interesting – Balvenie uses peat as part of the process to dry the barley! Although it’s not used for very long and most of the process is done via normal coal kiln.

balvenie peat kiln balvenie peat

The only peated expression from Balvenie is their 17yo peated cask, but the peat there is coming from the cask and not from the barley drying process.

From there we went through the standard part of grist, washbacks, still room. But then we hopped on the jeep and we drove to see the distillery coopers at work:

Cooper working at Balveinie

Cooper working at Balveinie

We stood there by the rail for a while, looking around, absorbing their actions, asking David questions – real nice experience watching those cooperage workers. these guys are aces!

After the cooperage, we went outside and with the fair weather outside, took some pictures with the casks out there. Since Rotem and myself are 1972 vintage, we took this strategic position while snapping some pictures 🙂

balvenie 1972 vintage

We then drove back and went into the known Warehouse 24. where we were able to see the Tun 1401 with the 2013 liquid. Unfortunately photos were not allowed in the warehouse but trust me – it smelled magnificent! After some explanations we went down to the lower level to bottle our own Balvenie bottle direct from the cask, where we took 2 bottles home.

On the way out, David filled a small bottle from of the Warehouse 24 members only cask and we went out back to the visitors center to have our vertical tasting of Balvenie ‘wares’.

balvenie tasting

Balvenie Tasting Lineup

12yo Double wood, 40%

Nose: Sweet sherry, honey, vanilla, fruity
Palate: Vanilla, oaky, spicey
Finish: Short, mild oak

12yo Single barrel cask 12760, bottle 28, 47.8%

Nose: Smooth and mild, vanilla and honey, buttery, some nutty edge
Palate: Spicy, pepper, vanilla, lots of oak, with water less spicy and oaky with more vanilla and honey. Some fruity edge (pears)
Finish: Medium, oak, vanilla

14yo Carribean cask, 43%

Nose: Banana, coconut impact from rum but not too strong only 5mo in 2nd cask. Vanilla and honey as well
Palate: Oaky, banana and vanilla, spices.
Finish: Short medium, vanilla and oak

17yo Double wood, 43%

Nose: Less pronounced sherry then 12,mild, nuts, butter, fruity,
Palate: Smooth, spicy, sherry more pronounced, mild oak, dry
Finish: Mild sherry oak, spicy, pepper, vanilla lurking behind.

21yo portwood, 40%

Nose: Dark fruits notes, port impact, berries, raisins, spicy, fruity note, weak vanilla, butyery edge
Palate: Not much port, vanilla, spices, peppery, oak
Finish: Medium, warm, oak sweet vanilla

39yo The Balvenie Members’ Cask (for Warehouse 24 members) , cask 17703, 1974, 53.7%

Nose: sweet nose, gentle, vanilla, like sherry, raisins, after few minutes some tm Balvenie spices,  butter, mellow and inviting.
Palate: smooth, mouth coating, spice, vanilla and honey. Mild oak for 39yo. Cracking.
Finish: medium short, vanilla honey and spices.

Distillery In a nutshell

Name: The Balvenie Distillery
Owners: William Grant & Sons
Location: Speyside (Near Dufftown)
Water source: Robbie Dubh sources
Stills: 6 x wash stills and 6 x spirit stills
Capacity (yearly): 6,000,000 Litres

Tour in a nutshell

Tours availability: 10:00 & 14:00 (Mon-Thur), 10:00 (Fri)
Cost of tour: £35 (but worth every penny!)
Length of tour: 2.5-3 hours
Distillery Exclusive bottles: Bottle your own from the cask for £25
Food: At Glenfiddich cafe


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