Tag Archive: Balvenie


Balvenie Single Barrel Sherry Cask 15 Year
Balvenie: Single Barrel Sherry Cask: 15 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year : 47.8% ABV)

Visual: Reddened bronze.

Viscosity: Very slow, very thin streaks, and many of them.

Nose: Sherry trifle and brandy cream. Alcohol warmth. Creme brulee. Sultanas. Full and rich. Water makes pencil shavings come out.

Body: Creme brulee. Malt chocolate. Strawberry jelly. Thick feel to the middle. Water makes thick sweet strawberry, though still with a touch of alcohol at the back. Orange creme and plums.

Finish: Spiced red grapes. Dry. Light oak. Dust balls. Malt chocolate. Bailies. Water brings out strawberry and brandy cream.

Conclusion: Odd timing drinking this so shortly after my discuss of the use of strawberries in beers recently. Odd as with water this really tastes like a strawberry whisky, not because strawberries were used in it. I presume anyway. Anyway a strawberry whisky, in a good way.

It is a sweet whisky, but far more robust than many sweet whiskeys, giving a whole range of spirit touched, creamy notes – resulting in trifle and bailies imagery coming out very easily. That creaminess is up front, but much more fruit is waiting to be brought out with water. The robustness is kept by backing the sweetness with spicy grapes that adds heft to the sweet trend without disrupting it.

There is a lot to bring out with water – the amount of water I was able to add while still being able to enjoy it meant that this seemed a lot larger than the actual pour I shared. It is also interesting in that I have seen sweet fruit notes like this before, but usually attached as contrast to a bigger, peatier, whisky. It is fun to encounter them in isolation here where they are the main show, not the contrast.

So, it seems a perfect match of barrel ageing to the Balvenie spirit for me – far more so than the bourbon cask. The feel of the spirit is just right for delivering the big sweetness and range while still preserving that distinct whisky character.

Of course, this is a single barrel range, so your experience may differ. My experience rocked though.

Background: Ok, you all know the score by now – ” Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!”. Originally I thought this was standard Single Barrel, but quickly realised this was the Sherry version, which sounded an interesting variant. Drunk while listening to New Model Army – Ghost Of Cain. Yes I am listening to them a lot, I got five albums in one pack, plenty of punk goodness there.

Balvenie 17 Year oublewood

Balvenie: Double Wood 17 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 17 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Burnished gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thin streaks.

Nose: Pencil shavings. Menthol. Rum raisins. Battenberg. Meringue. Honey. Water emphasizes the raisin elements.

Body: Smooth feel. Fudge. Large amount of oak. Raisins. Raspberry pavolova. Some alcohol. The alcohol eases with water and adds cake sponge, custard. Treacle, spicy orange and blueberry.

Finish: Wholemeal biscuits. Raisins. Gin air rises. Water adds fudge cake and treacle. Then some dry oak, custard and chocolate.

Conclusion: Age and maturity, wisdom and…flavour? I’m not quite sure where I was going with that. Probably something about one does not always mean the other. Anyway, another double wood, this time with a few more years on it. Let’s go.

There are a lot of touchstones shared between the two whiskys. The cakes sponge character, here pocked with fudge. The blueberry notes. The toffee and other such sweet notes. The biggest new note is the obvious massive raisins and dark fruit influence that has come with the extra years.

Taken neat this really doesn’t hold up that well. It is over oaken and somewhat closed off. With a bit of water play it becomes much better. The texture is always smooth in that way that comes with age, but the water removes the alcohol fire that seems to still hold on otherwise. Even better is that the blueberry really comes out here, playing well with the raisins and playing well against the fudge cake in a very satisfactory way. Add in a touch of spice orange and it finally completes the flavour set it needed.

Other elements that didn’t match so well also fade, with the menthol element diminishing. There is still a slightly odd air to it though that does not die easily, taking more water to drown.

Overall it is solid, and I like the fruitiness and extra weight that comes in here, but it just isn’t exceptional. Without water it is very meh, with water it is much more solid, but everything feels like it could still shine more. It is like the base character is just a touch too leaden.

Not bad, but the Caribbean rum version gives much more for less.

Background: last of the three Balvenie’s in the mini sampler set. This one an older 17 year take on the double wood. This has been aged in both bourbon and sherry wood. So Double Wood. Pretty simple really. This was picked up from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask

Balvenie: Caribbean Rum Cask: 14 Year (Scotland Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 14 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Quite fast middling width streaks.

Nose: Planed wood. Raisins. Marzipan. Dried fruit. Water adds potpourri and musty notes.

Body: Custard slice. Raisins. Eccles cakes. Malt chocolate. Mixed spice. Apricot. Dry. Cinnamon. Vanilla. Water makes much sweeter – Golden syrup, mulled wine and almond.

Finish: Shortbread and spice. Malt chocolate and orange. Cinnamon snaps. Water adds dried apricot and Christmas spice. Quite dry.

Conclusion: I’ve always been a sucker for Caribbean rum aged whisky. I first encountered it back at an airport duty free with Bushmills 12 Year Caribbean Rum aged. Seriously, can someone bring that back, it was amazing. Anyway, since that day this particular finish has been one of my soft spots.

The Balvenie benefits similarly, the smooth and sweet character gains a rambunctious air of spice and raisins that gives a more energetic party feel. Strangely here the spice calls to family Christmas spice and cinnamon snaps rather than a full on pirate “me hearty” style. Probably a good thing. For all their cool points these days pirates were dicks. Anyway, I digress, the smooth easy character of Balvenie keeps this spicy party family friendly. Well, family friendly for an alcohol drink.

I grew up in Yorkshire. We started young there. Don’t judge me.

The whisky is slightly warming and spiced over apricot fruits and custard sweetness. It comes with a very drying finish, but apart from that the rest is easy to drink, and with a lot to explore as you do.

The dark raisins added into the lighter fruit makes for a great compliment of styles. The malt chocolate notes you get in the underbelly of Balvine with water seem a tad out of place here thematically but doesn’t hurt the actual flavour of the whisky overall. Which is the most important thing.

Overall the rum adds greatly to an already pleasant whisky making for a good combination of easy drinking and spice liveliness. A good one to have in any cupboard.

Background: Miniatures! All the fun of a big bottle, no need to splash out on 70cl of stuff you may not like. A bit pricy per ml but worth it in my opinion. This came as part of a nice three pack, and the Caribbean Rum cask stood out as the one to try first. Had already reviewed one other, and have a 17 year double wood still to go. Picked up, almost predictably by now, from independent spirit. Drunk while listening to a random shuffle of Erock’s metal tunes.

Balvenie: Double Wood (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly reddened gold.

Viscosity: Quite thick fast streaks.

Nose: Blackberry bramble bush. Vanilla toffee. Pencil shavings.

Body: Blueberry. Light oak Golden syrup. Slight fire. Apple crumble, Milky chocolate. Liquorice. Cake sponge.

Finish: Planed wood. Milky chocolate and caramel. Toffee. Digestive biscuits. Slight Christmas spice.

Conclusion: Damn, wish I had the chance to try this with water.  While the aroma is quite weak the body has quite a touch of fire which did work to mask the flavour.  A pity as what you do get is interesting. Blueberry fruitiness, and slight spice. A nice combination if not overly forthright.

It does seem to be aiming for a subtlety of character that the alcohol burn works against.  It is slightly dessert like with cake sponge and crumble like elements emphasising this.  Again I think water would have helped massively here – potentially make a good accompaniment to drier desserts.

As well as the fire the main flaw is the finish which seems quite short.  It’s a nice enough whisky and has a decent mix of textures and flavours.  Overall not bad and the fruit and cake (though not fruitcake) mix bodes well. As tried it is a touch lacking, but if I get the chance to revisit with water in hand I will take another look and update you.

Background: Drunk at the royal oak.  Balvenie has been ok for me so far, but never so much so that I actively seek them out.   There is a Caribbean cask release that I have had recommended to me but never seen it turn up anywhere.   The bottle refers to maturation in traditional whisky oak and sherry finish, which I take to mean apredominantly bourbon ageing before the sherry – the aforementioned “Doublewood”.  As you may have guessed already, I didn’t get the chance to add water to this whisky, A pity. Also, as you may have noticed another none too great photo. Dammit.

Balvenie: Single Barrel: 15 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Cask Malt Whisky : 15 Years: 47.8% ABV )

Visual: Very pale light grain with a hint of gold.

Viscosity: Quite a few thin and moderate slow streaks.

Nose: Floral and honeydew, a little alcohol air. Moderate oak. Becomes smoother and sweeter with water.

Body: Toffee sweet, vanilla and oak. Smooth light syrup with water. Light slick texture. Slight lime added and malty chocolate after that.

Finish: Slight charring and the alcohol becomes more obvious. More floral in the air. A light malty ovaltine layer. Almost bitter chocolate, potpourri and perfume with water.

Conclusion: A smooth sweet whisky that tastes like a very pure expression of the whisky, with the oak exerting only subtle pressures upon it  The main body is very toffee and vanilla influenced and the oak subtlety adds minor touches to that.

It does need just a few touches of water to take off the alcohol edge and bring out a nice malt chocolate back.

Never a heavy duty whisky, but sweet and subtle.  The back you get with added water eases each sip out nicely and makes it a whisky that can be appreciated for a good conversation.  Neither dull nor intrusive, and the finish means you don’t have to be constantly sipping. A decent expression of the spirits natural energy.

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