The headline of this latest
The Balvenie 16 Year Old French Oak joins “The Flavours of The Balvenie” range which also includes two Travel Retail exclusives: 15-year-old Madeira cask-finished and an 18-year-old PX Sherry cask.
The French Oak iteration was matured for 16 years (or maybe slightly less) in American oak whisky barrels and then finished for an unspecified period in French oak casks previously used for fortified wine Pineau des Charentes.
Now I bet you’re probably wonder what kind of fortified wine is Pineau des Charenes. I know I wondered as I have never heard of it before this new Balvenie release. So this is an aperitif that is made from fresh/unfermented grape juice, mixed (or fortified if you’d like) with Cognac eau-de-vie and then matured in barrels (French Oak barrels of course).
According to the official press release and official notes, this finish is supposed to impart the Balvenie spirit with candied fruits and spices with some apples notes. Let’s check it out then.
Balvenie 16 Year Old French Oak (47.6%, £119.95)
Nose: At first it’s very sweet, sweeter than the usual for a Balvenie. There’s not much trademarked nuttiness nor softness. Golden apples with some granny smith apple peels. Pears juice, sprinkles of white pepper and ginger. After a few minutes, we get some Balvenie nuttiness yet it still remains sweet. Honey and buttery dough. Very sweet and bright nose.
Palate: Where did all the sweets gone? OK, OK I’m exaggerating a bit but it’s far less sweet in the mouth. It’s drying, having some grass, flower petals and earthiness, oak spices and nuts, citrus (mainly grapefruits) bitterness and pepper.
Finish: Medium (leaning to short) length, dry, nutty and earthy, honeyed apples and citrus.
Thoughts: It’s nice. Really. But caution: It’s not as Balvenie-y as other Balvenies out there. It’s not as complex as I hoped for a 16 Year Old Balvenie and the sweet and spice gap between the nose and the palate is noticeable.
But the bottom line is that it definitely checks all the boxes for a summer dram (if you actually managed to get a bottle)