A few weeks ago I noticed a few new Balvenies that popped up in the local airport Duty Free shop: Balvenie 15 Year Old Madeira Cask Finish and Balvenie 18 Year Old PX Cask Finish.
Since I had a short trip to London last week, I had the opportunity to purchase the bottles when I passed through the airport. Sadly, due to miscalculations I ended with only the Balvenie 15 bottle at my hands but I hope this mistake it will be fixed in a few weeks time and I’ll get the 18 PX cask as well.
Anyway, not much is known on this bottle – there was no official press release and they don’t have dedicated pages/sections in Balvenie website (nor are they mentioned anywhere there). Perhaps someone jumped the gun before official release date?
The whisky probably started its life in refill ex-bourbon casks and then was finished in Madeira casks for unknown time period before being bottled at 43%. Let’s check it out…
Balvenie 15 Year Old Madeira Cask (43%, $130)
Nose: Nutty and soft in the Balvenie tradition, then there’s the Madeira casks influence with baked fruits, pears, peaches and apricots sprinkled with white pepper. More nuttiness with stronger cinnamon, fruitiness is getting a floral and with perfume-y vibe along with honey (probably from the original bourbon casks, white and milk chocolate. A very nice and pleasant nose even at 43%.
Palate: Stone fruits – meat and peels together, orange peels, dusty, nuttiness, cinnamon and white pepper, oak spices, ginger and gentle bitterness, more cinnamon, reaching good balance of sour and sweet. A very soft delivery and could benefit from more oomph (why not 46%?)
Finish: Medium length, gentle spiciness, stone fruit peels, honey, pepper heat and nuttiness.
Thoughts: The bottle immensely improved after few days and we have a classic Balvenie with added fruits layers. Great nose, really! The palate still delivers but it could do better. For a Travel Retail release this is quite a good one. Age statement? Check. not going for the lowest available ABV? Check. Not as pricey as it could be for airport captive audience? Check.
In a nutshell: A surprising pleasant and decent whisky released in stealth. Not sorry for my gamble at grabbing a bottle – it will go well in the coming spring months.