Time off from work and lack of funds for a plane ticket got in the way of my being there physically.
Thankfully, Scotty beamed me up and I was able to join in digitally:
Also, my buddy Sam Simmons (aka Dr. Whisky & Global Ambassador to The Balvenie extraordinaire) joined in on the fun:
Details, more pictures and videos on this great event to follow. A big thanks goes out to The London Jewish Chaplaincy, Aimee Jacobs, Dr. Andrew Forrester & Sam Simmons – it was a blast and I can’t wait to share the details.
Balvenie week, Day #5. The final day in this series (though surely not my final Balvenie!). A big thanks once again to Sam Simmons (aka Dr. Whisky) for the videos and samples!
The Balvenie 15yr Single Barrel was my first Balvenie ever and currently, my favorite. I remember the day I bought the bottle as if it were yesterday…
Looking at the storekeepers stock, I had a choice of The Balvenie 12yr DoubleWood for $36 or the 15yr for about $49 (it’s now a good $60-65 bottle of the 15yr these days). I went into the store with the good intention of buying the DoubleWood but when I saw that I could get 3 more years worth of whisky for only $13, I jumped for it. It’s sort of silly now that I think about… I now feel that, for the most part, age doesn’t mean anything. Taste does.
So, how does this stuff taste? Well, there are two answers to that question:
A) It tastes damn good (as you’ll see in my notes below)
B) Because this is a single barrel expression, there’s a good chance that every bottle you buy could have come from a different barrel and the fluid could be more than 15yrs old (remember, an age statement with whisk(e)y is a minimum age statement), resulting in a slightly different tasting whisky each time. This is one of the things I love the most about this Balvenie series – you get something new every time. It’s like getting the honeymoon period of a romantic relationship in a bottle! Cool stuff.
On to the video… At long last (well, not that long. It’s only been a week), we arrive at the final video of the series. Today we are featuring Mr. David Stewart. Yes, the David Stewart. The man who designs and meticulously selects all of the whiskies for The Balvenie range. David, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed and for explaining why the Balvenie 15yr is also your favorite Balvenie:
And now my review of The Balvenie 15yr Single Barrel:
On the nose – The higher ABV for this one is dead on. Good on you, David!
Big bright fruits peaches (in white wine) & cantaloupe.
And floating on top of it all, those classic Balvenie honeyed notes.
On the mouth – Pure honey and citrus.
Hints of water cured ginger.
A slight brininess to this.
Great mouth feel – thick and sweet but not overly so.
The sweetness is pushed aside and now there a nice tapioca pudding quality to this.
Finish – There’s a fizziness throughout my entire mouth and lingering citrus and honey notes.
A delicious nuttiness returns (reminiscent of the marzipan note from before though, less sharp).
In sum – There’s something so elegant about The Balvenie. While this is nice enough as an everyday drinker, I can picture myself saving it for a special evening – a nice Shabbat (the Sabbath) dram! Wait a sec, Shabbat starts tonight! Also, its my oldest daughter’s 4th birthday. I think I’ll celebrate both occasions with a little Balvenie 15yr.
As with my other Balvenie Week posts – before we get to my review of today’s whisky, please sit back and enjoy this exclusive video with a very special employee of The Balvenie (please note that my saying this is not meant to imply that the other Balvenie workers we’ve shown aren’t special) – today’s guest is Dennis McBain, Coppersmith for The Balvenie for nearly 51 years. You can read more about Dennis here and here. I am very honored that he agreed to be recorded for this series. Dennis, thank you.
Now, my review of Dennis’ favorite Bavenie expression, the DoubleWood:
On the nose – A tale of two noses.
Initial few whiffs offer up great (though not overwhelming) sherried notes filled with chocolates & licorice.
Better yet, chocolate covered licorice (yes, it exists).
Wine soaked raisins.
Right beside these scents I get notes of a full jar of honey and cup of vanilla tea.
Clove laden orange.
On the mouth – Succulent.
Chewy toffees and warm butter.
Boston baked beans (the candy coated peanuts).
More sugared nuts.
Finish – Baklava. Walnuts. Medium length.
In sum – A solid… let me rethink then restate this… Beyond a “solid” whisky, it’s a must have.
Inexpensive and interesting enough to give to your guests who have the occasional whisky (perhaps this one will turn them into whisky geeks – as mentioned, that’s how it happened for Gal of Whisky Israel), complex enough for the whisky connoisseur, easy enough to be an every day drinker.
Today’s Balvenie is an interesting one. Quite different from the others I’ve had. When I first got into The Balvenie I reached for the 15yr Single Barrel (still my favorite Balvenie to date) then the 12yr DoubleWood, the 21yr PortWood then the 17yr Madeira Cask.
When I got my first bottle of the 12yr Signature, to be quite honest, I just did not appreciate it as I should have. I was expecting something similar to their 12yr DoubleWood and it’s a very different whisky (if’n you ask me). Now that I am able to sit down and actually review the stuff, I’ve got to say that I think my mind is changed on it.
Before we go to that, however, please sit back and enjoy the 3rd video in my exclusive Balvenie Employee’s favorites series. Today I am featuring Stephen Archibald:
So, here are my official thoughts on this whisky:
On the nose – Bright nose with scents that stick to your nose as if they had little bits of velcro on them:
Banana peels and then some pears (again, unripened).
One thing I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, but failed to mention yesterday, is that there is something so very special happening in New York City this Thursday (August 26th, 2010). The Whisky Guild is hosting another great “Whisky on the Hudson” cruise that day.
While that is great news in and of itself, the fact that The Balvenie will be hosting a room which is supposed to replicate their “Warehouse 24” back at their distillery is something quite amazing. Why is it amazing? Well, there’s going to be over 29 malts to taste including The Balvenie Rose (a distillery only dram), the new 17yr Peated Cask (yet to be released) and many, many, many others.
In addition to what The Balvenie will be offering, there’s going to be over 200 whiskies to taste that night. Oh yeah. Let the whisky geekery begin!
For more info and to buy a ticket or three, click here.
While I’ll be reviewing The Balvenie 17yr Rum Cask today, Ian Watson, who works in maltings at The Balvenie, will be telling us what his favorite Balvenie expression is and why:
On to my review of the 17yr Rum Cask:
On the nose – Holy pirate rum influence!
Sugar cane and rock candy.
Burnt Demerara sugar and ginger snaps.
Rubber shoe soles.
Apricots with hints of burnt coconut shreds.
On the mouth – The word here is soft. Like sipping cotton balls (look that that bunny! Does it get softer than this? No, me thinks).
The 2nd 17yr Balvenie I’ve had (the first being the Madeira Cask) and again, this is pure sexy.
The nose is interesting but the palate is where it’s at.
Apple sauce and pure malt.
Sugar babies and brown sugar edible undies (I did say this was a sexy dram, right?).
Finish – Spicy, somehow, in comparison to the palate.
Menthol (slight) and then some pastries or fruit tarts.
Wait, nutmeg creeps up.
In sum – The nose was interesting but not something I normally look for in a dram. The palate, however, was delectable. The finish was mixed but, I liked it. A conversation piece for sure. One to enjoy in company whilst you’re geeking out about whisky.