The Balvenie is a favorite distillery of mine, and of many others I know. They do have quite a few expressions in their core range, and travel range, all are of high quality, with some being plain ‘good, and yummy’ and others really lovely indeed. The last time i posted notes about a few Balvenies it was mainly of their high end, expensive and quite rare single casks belonging to the DCS Compendium . Today I am happy to post notes for a very affordable, new Travel Retail exclusive, aged for 14 years, distilled from peated barley made at the distillery, and triple cask-aged.
So, a peated Balvenie, really? yes, why not? But this time it’s “really” peated barley as opposed to the 17 yo peated cask (which was lovely – see my notes). What most people do not know is that the balvenie has introduce (some years ago) The Balvenie a peating programme to create a different style of the whisky with “enhanced smoky notes”, and pay homage to a time when peat use was commonplace in Speyside. One batch of peated malt is distilled each year during ‘peat week’, The balvenie has a traditional malting floor which is still utilised today, and the malt used for making the whisky was malted and kilned there…
Although this is referred to as ‘heavily peated’ Balvenie, i suggest you do not expect an extremely smoky / peated whisky – as this is not an Islay sort of peated whisky, and not even close to smokier non-Islays such as Ardmore, Benriach etc. However, there’s enough smoke and peat to make it an unusually interesting Balvenie. In addition to the peating levels, there’s also an interesting wood regime used here with yet another triple cask usage (which is not unusual for the Balvenie) : Oloroso Sherry butts (Imparting rich fruit and subtle spice) , First Fill ex-Bournon Barrels (adding vanilla, oak and sweetness), and last – Traditional whisky casks [I assume the mean Refill ex-Bourbon (adding a layer of honey).
Now, let’s see how all that feels like on the palate, shall wel?
Nose: Well well, this certainly smells nice! There’s some nice sweet smokiness, but quite restrained, with BBQed fruit (bbq pineapple, banana, peach ) and a nice earthy notes, and a hint of nuts, honey and vanilla, and a touch of sultana.
Palate: The palate is smokier than the nose suggests (but only by a slight margin) it’s not very peaty at all, but with nice hint of earthy peat, some smoky dried fruit (sultana , fig) , and a nice balance of vanilla / sweetness, and a touch of pepper.
Finish: Medium long with the smoke and the oloroso nicely intertwined.
This is a highly enjoyable Balvenie, quite different than the rest of them, with the added touch of smoke, and peat (not medicinal, but more earthy). The oloroso and the smoky character of the spirit, work wonderfully well together. A very more-ish whisky, easy drinking. If you’re not a peat lover, don’t be alarmed, as the whisky doesnt even come close to being any sort of peat monster, it’s very elegant, and the smoky character complements the rest of the aromas/ flavours just perfectly, adding another dimension without over-shadowing the honey, vanilla and spice. Highly recommended if you pass through a duty free shop when you fly to the EU. I know I want one, and at that price, it’s one to certainly get.