Balvenie tasting in Tel-Aviv and a Whisky Review: Balvenie 40 Year Old

Yesterday our off-the-beaten-whisky-track country got to host a real Balvenie tasting where the Balvenie range (at least the part is imported to Israel) was showcased.

balvenie new make

Balvenie new make at 69.7%

This tasting, organized by our local Balvenie importer HaCarem, was led by Jonny Cornthwaite, a Balvenie ambassador who did a great work leading the audience through the tasting.

We started with a sip of Balvenie new make bottled at 69.7%. It was oily and malty with coconut, fruity touch with herbal/floral edge and overall very clean and fresh, clearly showing the Balvenie profile we know from their whiskies.

We then moved to the real lineup which included Balvenie 12yo double wood (of course), the 17yo double wood, 21yo portwood and the 17yo peated cask which isn’t produced anymore but seems like we still get some from the dwindling stocks left in the warehouses.

The Balvenie tasting lineup

The Balvenie tasting lineup. From right to left (!): 12yo DW, 17yo DW, 17yo Peated cask & 21yo Portwood

balvenie tasting led by Jonny CornthwaiteIn between tastings, Jonny explained the process of producing whisky and how Balvenie keeps up the old whisky production tradition. The tradition keeping was a very prominent part in the presentation and is an integral part of how Balvenie define themselves.

But the for me, the highlight of the tasting was sitting down with Jonny along with my fellow Israeli whisky bloggers (Gal & Michael), discussing and dissecting whisky and whisky industry and getting to taste the Balvenie forty year old which immediately made it the best whisky day in a long time!

Details are a bit sparse on the Balvenie forty year old whisky but we do know it comes from a vatting of three sherry butts and three or four (depends on the batch) American oak casks. There’s no need for suspense here and I assume it won’t shock you to know it’s a good dram. the question is only: “just how good is it?”

Balvenie 40 Year Old (48.5%, 150 bottles, £2,945 / $3,800)

balvenie 40Nose: Oh wow! That first sniff is nothing short of incredible: fragrance and perfume Balvenie with sweet, heavy old sherry notes of spices and stewed fruits. Plums, lots of cherries liquer (like Heering ), chocolate filled in cherry and a bit of leather.

Palate: Oak, sherry goodness, spicy with pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, kirshberry liquer, nuts and it’s oh so very smooth.

Finish: Starts spicy and goes mellow oak with linger cherries liquor.

Thoughts: Oh my god, this is the textbook definition for Dream dram (until I taste the 50 yo ,that is). It’s a sensational dram and I’m so glad I got to try it. It’s not a whisky I can afford to buy (unless I win the lottery) so my hearty gratitude to Balvenie and Jonny Cornthwaite, for giving me that opportunity.



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