Category Archives: Balvenie

Balvenie 17yo DoubleWood (not to be confused with the standard, 12yo version)


Speyside region – 43% ABV – $129

New to The Balvenie’s standard range is a 17yo whisky.

Before this launch, they had their 12yo Signature, 12yo DoubleWood, 15yo Single Barrel series (amazing series, people!) and a 21yo PortWood as their standard range.

There have been the one-off 17yo yearly releases such as the Madeira Cask, Islay Cask, Peated Cask, Sherry Wood, Rum Cask, etc…, etc…, etc…

What’s new this year is a now standard whisky: the 17yo DoubleWood.  Essentially, an older version of the 12yo.  At $40 (give or take) I’ve always found the 12yo DoubleWood to be one of the best buy whiskies out there.  With this one jumping nearly $90 in cost, let’s see what it does; what the differences are…

On the nose –  Kip Winger says she’s 17 but she don’t smell 17.

(Yes, I know that sounded a bit too off but, come on, you know who you’re reading folks!)

This juice has the youthful quality of light bright fruit upon first sniff (pears, which are slight, as well as green plums).

A touch of rain water and then some sherry notes pop in: dates, mainly, then a seemingly perfumed cola…

Nosing after a few sips and the wood starts to come through in a welcome way.

On the mouth – Packed full of light flavors:  Honey (“The” signature Balvenie character), light wood spice, white/yellow cherries.

Insanely approachable whisky.  Easy going.  Almost too easy.

Sugared breakfast cereal (thinking Alpha-Bits, to be sure).  Soft mouthfeel.

Not very viscous but again, easy.

Finish – Biscuits, buttered with honey and medium wood spice.

In sum – For my tastes, I think I like the 12yo DoubleWood over this 17yo.  Both are fine whiskies to be sure but I think the 12yo is a more challenging whisky and I’m one that likes to be challenged.

For those in the audience that is looking for what is quite possibly the easiest drinking whiskies I’ve had in a while, this baby is for you.

Special thanks to AW for the official sample!

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.

The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #3 – US exclusive

Speyside region – 50.3%ABV – $250 (picture shown is from Batch #2)

Last year (or so; maybe a bit earlier) I heard about a new distillery only bottling from The Balvenie: Tun 1401.

Tun 1401 was an experiment by Master Blender David Stewart to mix multiple casks or in a large, 2000 liter tun (or, mega-cask), marry the whiskies over the period of a few months in the Tun and see what happens.  David Stewart being who he is knew exactly what would happen (being 50 years in the business (all of those years with The Balvenie & Glenfiddich) there’s no doubt he knew what he was doing).

My guess is mixing these casks allowed him to use older stocks that might have been too woody to bottle by themselves; tempering with younger whiskies and getting a good mix of sherry & bourbon matured whiskies for a nice, balanced yet complex, cask strength whisky.

Well, the “experiment” worked and all of the Tun 1401 bottles sold out right quick!  Now what do to? Capitalize on the sucess of the whisky and make it more widely available, that’s what!

David got to work quickly on batches #2 & #3.  The second batch is for the UK/EU market while batch #3 is for the US.

I asked what whiskies were in the batch (batch #3) and here’s what was returned:

  • Tun 1401, batch 3 is a vatting of 10 casks (7 Bourbon Cask, 3 Sherry butts), which were laid down during David Stewart’s time at the distillery. Each was hand picked by David for this special vatting.
  • The oldest cask is from 1967, the youngest from 1989
  • The whiskies were married together in a traditional marrying tun, which has a capacity of roughly 2000 liters. The marrying process took place in Warehouse 24 and lasted roughly 3 months
  • Total of 1800 bottles available.

So, how did they do it?  How is it really married?  See the video below.

How is the stuff?  Well…

On the nose  Hey now!  Those classic honied notes you get from The Balvenie are very pronounced in this whisky.

On top of it, you can smell the age in this whisky – dank oaky notes, fresh rain on a woodsy walk in the springtime and crushed sassafras leaves.

Wonderful autumnal notes in here too – warm cinnamon apple sauce, fresh cardamom, and the smell from a warm Maine cottage (like the one from On Golden Pond, just drying the summer humid air out of the wood).

I’m also getting some blueberry sauce and wood framed model airplanes (model glue and all).  Ah, memories of building model airplanes with my dad in north western Connecticut in the late 70’s.  Love it.

On the mouth Thick, vicious, oily mouth feel with a warming sensation that starts from the tip of the tongue down to the belly.

This is what to drink in cold weather for sure!!

Flavorwise, I’m getting much of the same on the palate as I got on the nose.  There’s no evolution here from smell to taste but in this case, I’m happy about that.

Finish Long drying finish that’s got both a nice oaky quality to it but now there’s a strong introduction of date bars.

In sum A big thanks goes to The Balvenie for giving the US the entire batch of this stuff.  I love The Balvenie (that’s no secret) but The Balvenie at cask strength and of this quality is something to be very thankful for.  I hope to buy a bottle of this stuff (and/or hope that I find it next to the family Chanukiah (Chanukah menorah) this winter.  Fingers crossed!!

Thanks to Andy Weir for the sample!

L’shanah Tovah! Happy new year! Some whisky suggestions for you…

Tonight starts the Jewish New Year – the holiday, as most of you know, is called Rosh Hashanah (which translated from Hebrew means: “Head of the year” or the “Start of the year”).

There are some traditional foods people eat during the new year:

  • Apples
  • Honey (dipping the apples in honey then eating the, is done as a symbolic way of welcoming the new year & hoping that it is a “sweet” one)
  • A round shaped Challah bread (round to symbolize the circle of life)

What I’d like to suggest is a whisky accompaniment or alternative to these foods.

Why an accompaniment?  Well, you might like to pair whisky with what you’re eating.  Why an alternative?  Maybe you’re not Jewish or maybe you are Jewish but don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah or you’re not a traditionalist.  Or perhaps I’m just doing this for fun.  Either way, I think there are some good whisky equivilents to the three traditional foods so I wanted to share them with you:

To accompany or replace Apples:

Arran 14yo – Islands region – 46%ABV – $70 | £38 | €45

On the nose Big, big apples!  Wow!


Malty goodness.

Getting fruitier, this time a bit more tropical…mango and star fruit.

Caramel syrup.

A big fat fruity & juicy nose that makes me very happy!

On the mouth Fizzy-fizzy goodness (however I was hoping for a slightly chewier mouthfeel).

More floral in taste as compared to the nose.

Interesting…  Malt, top notch belgian beer (Duvel, my favorite).

Youthful notes – I’d love to taste what the new make spirit is like, my guess is that it’s strong personality is showing through to the final product.

Turkish delights minus the nuts.

Rose water.

A nice saltiness here.

Cereal notes.

Apple peels.  Dried apples.

Finish — Lasting, still fizzy.  A briny & fruity finish.


To accompany or replace Honey:

Balvenie 15yo Single Cask – Speyside – 47.8%ABV – 750ml – $55-65 | £47 | €55

On the nose The higher ABV for this one is dead on.  Most whiskies from the Balvenie are released at 43%ABV (in the US — 40%ABV elsewhere).

Big bright fruits peaches (in white wine) & cantaloupe.

Marzipan – sharp almond notes.

Thai yellow curry & lightly buttered couscous (even getting some lime leaf here).

And floating on top of it all, those classic Balvenie honeyed notes.

On the mouth Pure honey and citrus.

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.

Hints of water cured ginger.

A slight brininess 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).


To accompany or replace Challah:

Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey – 50%ABV – 750ml bottle – $20 | £25 | €30

On the nose Initial few whiffs are very deceiving offering up softer notes of buttered crumpets and dark chocolate.

After nosing is for a bit longer, however, the bite starts to kick in and great vanilla and blueberry notes (yay rye whiskey!) pop as do gingerbread cookies and cinnamon sticks.

A great nose though very stinging (I like that – it lets me know I’m still alive and kicking).

If the ABV weren’t so high I could continue to nose the shit out of this one.

On the mouth The entry here is soft (yes, even at 50% ABV) and the fluid feels, not tastes, feels like thick Kool-aid drink – take a Kool-Aid packet and add about 10% less water and that’s the feel you get.

Starts off like over-cooked butter then gets earthy.  Fresh soil and crystalized ginger – Oh, this is getting stronger, and stronger – alcohol infused flan – Oh, this is good.

Finish Long and longer.  Strong and stronger.

True, this last one may not have the notes of Challah bread but there are those bready notes which are just fantastic and the finish, with it being long & strong, represents my wish for you:

May you all “Live Long and Prosper”

(Leonard Nimoy is a Jew so I can get away with this).

Balvenie 25yo Single Cask bottled at 46.9%ABV

Speyside – 46.9%ABV – 750ml – $404 (wowza! This was originally about £100/$200 when it was first released 5 years ago)

It’s not secret that I’m a fan of The Balvenie.  I’ll be headed there as part of the JSMWS tour this month and have been counting down the days until my arrival there.  I was hoping to meet up with Mr. Sam Simmons while I’m out there but sadly, we’ll be missing one another.

In case you missed my video series on The Balvenie (special thanks goes out, once again to Sam on that one), you can check them out here.

The Balvenie has always nailed it with the 15yo single cask series, let’s see what another 10 years and an added $350 dollars does for this whisky…

On the nose Lemony goodness right up front.

Indian cooking spices; turmeric and a breath of cumin.

This is a nice bourbon fresh nose.  Oaky, honey, tangerines.  Fresh cotton.  Pineapple and mangoes.  Ripe banana.  Banana peel. I’m almost getting some blue raspberry in there.   This list goes on and on…

Pears, bruised macintosh apples.

This is all rounded out by what seems to be lightly salted peanuts (the smell, not the taste).

On the mouth– Hot and clean (an oxymoron in the adult film community).

Malty.  Tannic.  Limes.

So far, I enjoyed the nose much more…  Let’s take a break, maybe add a bit of water…

Water calms this one down quite a bit.

Cooked sugar and orange butter.  Malty.  Insanely clean and fresh.

Dried apricots.  Toasted coconut.  Creme brulee.

Finish Hot, long finish filled with banana, honey and a touch of apple.

In sum Oh, you tease!  The nose was brilliant.  I can not stress that enough.  The flavor of the whisky was a bit too shy but water woke her up just enough to make it all worth while.  While normally I prefer a higher ABV, I think this one benefited with the addition of water.  This is a watch-your-kids-play-in-the-sandbox-on-a-cool-summer’s-day type of dram.  I’m not sure I know what that means but perhaps it’s the mix of parental pride and relaxation.

Special thanks goes out to Sam Simmons for the sample (sorry it took me so damn long to post on this one!!)