Tag Archives: Balvenie

Balvenie 16 Year Old French Oak

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)

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Balvenie 15 Year Old Madeira Cask (Travel Retail)

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%. Continue reading

Balvenie “The Sweet Toast of American Oak” 12 Year Old Review

Last month Balvenie Distillery launched a new whisky range – the Balvenie Stories series. Initially there are three releases with the entry level and the introduction to the range is the 12 Year Old The Sweet Toast of American Oak.

The whisky was aged in the customary ex-bourbon casks and then finished in heavily toasted (at the distillery’s cooperagev of course) virgin oak barrels from Kentucky.

It’s quite interesting and refreshing to see a new permanent 12 Year Old whisky from Balvenie which isn’t the Double Wood (No, those single barrels doesn’t count!).

Balvenie 12 Year Old – The Sweet Toast of American Oak (43%, £43.95/€47,95)

Nose: Soft and creamy, full of coconut, vanilla, and walnuts. Laid back heather honey. After a few minutes it develops some greenish pineapple and eventually more tropical fruit sweetness. Continue reading

The Balvenie Peated Triple Cask 14 Year Old (Travel Retail) Review

Last October I reviewed the Balvenie Peat Week 2002 14 Year Old which I quite liked but I neglected to review its sibling Peated Triple Cask 14 Year Old which is an exclusive offering for Travel Retail market so it’s time to fix that.

The Balvenie Peated Triple Cask 14 was matured in three (hence the Triple brand) different cask types: first it was matured in first-fill bourbon, then in refill bourbon and finally in sherry casks.

Let’s check it out and see how it compares to the Peat Week 2002.

The Balvenie Peated Triple Cask 14 Year Old (48.3%, £71.79/$99.90)

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Balvenie Peat Week 14 Year Old (2002 Vintage) Review

Until recently, the only peated Balvenie we had were the long gone limited edition Balvenie Peated Cask 17 Year Old (which I reviewed a few years ago) and the Islay Cask 17 Year Old. But states has changed recently with two new peated Balvenies, both 14 year old expressions, were released to markets. The first is a Triple Cask 14 Year Old for Travel Retail market and a globally released 14 year old named Peat Week as Balvenie produces peated whisky for one week a year (and not every year), naturally called named ‘Peat Week’.

Today I’m checking out the Peat Week 14 Year old that was distilled in 2002 and has been aged in American Bourbon oak for 14 years.

Balvenie Peat Week 14 yo 2002 Vintage (48.3%, £56.95/$99.99)

Nose: Like all Balvenies I had tasted to day, it has that soft nose I associate with Balvenie and this time it’s full of sweet honey and gentle peat, then sweet fruit – citrus, pears and peaches and finally soft nuttiness. Continue reading

Balvenie Triple Cask 25 Year Old Review

Lately I tasted a few Travel Retail exclusive expression that left me unimpressed with their quality. Luckily there were a few that bucked that trend, but when you factor along the news on more NAS whiskies coming up, dropping standard age-statement whiskies from the TR market, you can not but worry about the overall change we’re witnessing at the Travel Retail channel.

Although big conglomerates as Diageo and Pernod Ricard drop the age statement from new Travel Retail releases with Mortlach Special Strength, Glenfiddich Casks series and many other examples, the smaller players in the Travel Retail market kept age statement for their Travel Retail releases, like Balvenie did with their Triple Cask range, Bacardi with their “The Last Great Malts” and others.

But we know that age statement doesn’t guarantee quality. Especially not when you’re in the Travel retail market with large captive audience looking for some whisky purchases before going on a plane. Could it be that Travel Retail market is playing itself into a separate game-field with new rules thus making it a less relevant market for whisky aficionados?

The Balvenie Triple Cask 25 Year Old (along with the other expressions in the series: 12 yo and 16 yo), have been matured in three kinds of casks: refill casks, first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts (Hence the Triple Cask name for the range) and then were vatted together and were left to marry in a tun for around six months. As the high end offering from Balvenie in the Travel Retail it should teach us a lot on how we should treat that market.

Balvenie Triple Cask 25 Year Old (40%, £355 (TR)/£381)

balvenie-triple-cask-25-year-oldNose: There’s that soft fruits and nuts notes so synonymous with Balvenie, but it does feel thin and watery at first. Thankfully over time it develops and we get a lots of honey, coconut, yellow fruits (mirabelles anyone?), sugar icing, sweet cookie dough, hazelnuts and gentle oak wood spices. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Balvenie Single Cask Traditional Oak Cask 15yo (Cask #214) (Usquebaugh Society BTC 2014 #3)

After two polarizing days in the blind tasting competition it’s time to see where the pendulum takes me today: zero points or lots of points.

Below you’ll find my notes (Nose/Palate/Finish) as written before the bottle revelation but here’s what I guessed it to be and why:

I went for Cragannmore 14yo 46%  (while thinking of a signatory bottling). It was clear it’s ex-bourbon cask with vanilla & honey, but it had a growing-over-time sweet floral note and with something mineral underneath it. Immediately I felt it’s a speyside distillery as it wasn’t grassy/lighter enough for lowland and highlands was out of question by the rules. But which one? that was the real question and it was hard. I looked at the notes and eventually went for Cragganmore because of the floral and mineral notes. I felt it wasn’t as mature nor strong as the previous whiskies in the competition so went for 14yo and 46%.

Update: It’s Balvenie single cask 15yo. (cask #214, Distilled: 11.01.1999, Bottled: 13.02.2014)

Well, surprisingly I did quite and got 52 points for region, age and ABV. But Balvenie? The cask profile is very un-Balvenie which I assume was the reason it was included in the game. Nasty curve here 🙂

Balvenie Single Cask Traditional Oak Cask 15yo (Cask #214) (47.8%, 350 bottles)

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Whisky Review & Tasting Notes: Balvenie 17 Year Old Peated Cask

Yesterday I reported on the Balvenie tasting held in TLV earlier this week and I suddenly noticed that I didn’t publish tasting notes for the 17 Year Old Peated Cask on the blog although I did taste it numerous times in the past, so let’s fix this, OK?

The 17yo peated cask is a standard Balvenie unpeated spirit that was finished in casks that held peated spirit. Yes, Balvenie do distill peated spirit, but they do so for only one week every year.

Fun fact: when I visited Balvenie I noticed they are using peat for couple of hours when drying the barley to stop germinating but it’s done for a short period and it’s not imparting the barley with enough PPM to be called peated malt 🙂

The Peated cask is a discontinued expression so prices are high considering its age, but it may be worth it. let’s check.

Balvenie 17 Peated Cask (43%, €117.5 / $138)

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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)

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Whisky Review – Balvenie 30 Year Old

I’ve tasted many of the Balvenie core range whiskies: from the 12yo Double Wood to the 21yo PortWood and some indies (spooned Balvenies). I even had a fabulous tour at the distillery (read my recap here). But how about aiming high and try the one high-end OB Balvenie we mortals can have (without going bankrupt)?

No, it’s not the Tun 1041 as I don’t think we can consider the Tun 1041 as core range OB, I’m talking on the Balvenie 30 years old. It’s a cask strength Balvenie, although the ABV may be misleading at 47.3%. The 30 yo Balvenie was matured in a combination of American oak and Oloroso sherry casks.

I’m fortunate having good friends who share the passion and one of the local friends who is a big Balvenie fan, actually went ahead, bought a bottle and invited me over for a dram. I didn’t say no 🙂 (Thanks O. !)

balvenie 30

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