Speyside – 43%ABV – $125 | £68 | €81
Last week I told you about the big Balvenie tasting I organized at my synagogue. We had over 30 people there and Sam Simmons (aka Dr. Whisky, aka The Balvenie‘s Global Ambassador) led us through 5 of their expressions: Balvenie DoubleWood, 14yr Caribbean Cask (notes to follow), 17yr Madeira Cask, 17yr Peated Cask & their 21yr Port Wood.
Of the 30 plus people we had at the tasting, I’d say about 40% of them were women. Why do I bring this up? Well, I can tell you that the favorite dram of the evening was this 17yr Peated Cask and the majority of the women there LOVED this baby.
Why does this matter? Well, the old stereotype was that women don’t like Scotch whisky (or whisk(e)y in general). This has since become a bit of a fallacy. The new stereotype is that women don’t like peated (or smokey) whiskies. The tasting of this expression last week, and the women’s love for it, helped to debunk that as well. Huzzah!
Strangely enough, after everything was said and done, and the tasting was over, there was a wee bit ‘o whisky left in each bottle. Sam was nice enough to gift them to the society. I gave the DoubleWood, PortWood and Madeira Cask remnants away to a few lucky society members and kept the balance of this Peated Cask Balvenie as well as the Caribbean Cask bottle (for scientific purpose, you know…).
Sam, thanks again for the tasting and for the samples!
On the nose — Wow, it’s amazing what a little bit of peat does to this Balvenie!
Smoked provolone cheese.
Salty maritime notes.
A slight smokiness (like a warm campfire smoke).
Warm honey & peaches.
I want to curl up in my glass and camp out here for a while. Really loverly schtuff!
On the mouth — No doubt in my mind, this is a Balvenie – classic honey notes!!
Oak is well integrated.
I’m reminded of what Sam said during the tasting – that the peat in this whisky will remind you of a toasted marshmallow (in smoky style, not flavor). He’s spot on! The smokiness is just around the edges but no doubt it’s a part of the whole experience.
Did I mention the mouth feel is a chewy one?
Slightly spicy and very vanilla’ed (yes, I understand that this is not a real word. Sue me.)
In sum — I’m a longtime fan of the Balvenie’s yearly 17yr expressions and this one is no exception. This could actually be my favorite of all the B17’s (as I lovingly call them – William Grant & Sons, feel free to use this term in later marketing campaigns. Royalty free, my gift you).
So, when should you enjoy this? This, for me, is a cold morning dram. The slight peatiness will warm you up but the fruitiness will brighten you day. If the morning dram is not your thing, gather with friends ’round an outside bonfire, queue up some and, later on, make out with your surfer girl!
As mentioned in a previous post, Jason Johnstone-Yellin of Guid Scotch Drink joined me and my society for The Balvenie tasting last week and he went home with a sample of this juice. You can read his notes here.