News from The Balvenie Road Show in DC with guest blogger/JSMWS member, David Hartogs

I hope you’ll all join in on welcoming a very special guest blogger today: David Hartogs.

David is a long time and loyal reader of my blog (thanks, David, as always) and has actually done a guest post about a year and a half ago detailing his trip to Scotland.

David is also a contributing writer to the Better Beer Authority and has recently become a founding member of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society.  David, thank you for your membership!

Onto his experience of The Balvenie Road, Washington DC…


As I was in the middle of another thrilling work day, my gchat pops up with one Mr. Hatton asking if I had a minute. For Joshua, of course I did. This led to that and 30 hours later I was standing in line at the Longview Gallery in Washington, DC waiting for the start of the exclusive tasting from Balvenie on their Roadshow tour, “The Balvenie Rare Craft Experience”. Since I live and work in DC, (my office is 4 blocks from the gallery) and Joshua is in Connecticut, I would go in his place and blog about my experience.

First you should know, though I have huge amounts of respect for Balvenie, what they do and their philosophy, I have just not gotten into their whiskies as others have. I have a monthly Scotch of the month club and one member is a fanatic when it comes to Balvenie, sadly, he was not able to join me at this event. I’ve sampled about 10 different expressions but it’s been about 18 months since the last time I had some. So my plan was to go into this event with an open mind to taste them again for the first time.

Balvenie has embarked on “Rare Craft Road Tour” Balvenie, at its root is a hand crafted whisky and to celebrate this they drove a handmade Morgan car around the United States celebrating handmade and rare crafts, from skateboards, to bicycles, anything really. All of these crafts were on display in the art gallery including the Morgan itself, what a beautiful car it was.

Balvenie also brought in a malting floor, so you could shovel the grains, and set aside a room with replica door to their famed Warehouse 24. This was a very polished marketing event. Even the ladies picked to host the event were fine crafts themselves.

On to the whisky! Balvenie had on hand a very nice sampling from their range. Starting with the 12 year Doublewood. This one in particular I have never been a fan of. That being said, it’s been a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed this sample, and would have gotten more had I not had to work the next day. Next up I went with the 14 year Caribbean Cask. I’ve had the 17 year release before and found that to be too sweet. The 14 year however was well balanced and a highly enjoyable dram, towards the end I started getting some nice honey notes. The following sample, I had to hand them a card with my email address, phone number and kilt size to gain entry into the Warehouse 24 where they were pouring their famed 21 year Portwood. I’ve had this before. It is a lovely dram, inside the warehouse the gentleman pouring the dram was extremely knowledge about all things Balvenie (the other whisky pourers not so much). I overheard him mention that David Stewart, their master distiller is celebrating 50 years on the job! Lastly I sampled the 15 year Single Barrel. This was perhaps my favorite dram of the night. It was great to taste the malt without the addition of a barrel such as port or rum. My only wish is that I tried this first.

I was fortunate enough to have briefly met the US Brand Ambassador, Nicholas M. Pollachi, who though extremely busy took to time to say hello and send his regards to Mr. Hatton. He seems like quite the chap and someone who would be great fun to share a dram with. (Not to mention his business card has the most serious card stock I have ever seen on a business card.) Also showing what a small world this is, I introduced myself to Joshua London, a wine and spirits writer, and member of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society. He seemed to be enjoying the event himself and quite nice to meet a fellow Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society member local to DC.  All in all this was a fine event, as Balvenie travels around the country on this tour, if you can find you way to an event, it really is worth seeking out.