Over the years Balvenie has done a good job of establishing itself as one of the most prominent “proper” distilleries out there. Proper in such that it grows all its own barley near the distillery, they have an active Malting floor on site and make their own casks with their own coopers. From start to finish the job is done on site and that can’t be said for too many these days.
Despite this Balvenie aren’t a niche distributor, they are available in most supermarkets and off licenses around and the 12 Year Old Doublewood is probably the most popular of their offerings.
Said to be aged for the first portion of its life (10 years) in Bourbon casks and then the final 2 years completed in Sherry casks it’s a firm favorite of those just finding their way through the magnificent world of Scotch Whisky.
What, then, do we make of this most popular dram.
About the Distillery
The Balvenie is a Speyside single malt whiskey distilled in Dufftown, Scotland. The origins of the distillery go back to 1886 when one William Grant purchased a field near Balvenie Castle in which he laid the foundation stone for what was to come.
In 1892, work commenced on Balvenie New House, an 18th-century mansion, to transform it into a distillery, and a year later, in May 1983, the first Balvenie single malt was distilled.
William Grant became famous for being the first person to incorporate wood finishing into the final processing of his single malt. This process involved using ex-bourbon barrels for the first aging, followed by second aging in ex-Rum, Sherry, or Port casks.
The Balvenie distillery is only one of seven that has its own malting floor. It is also the only distillery that continues to practice all five of the “rare crafts,” including growing barley, malting barley, on-site coppersmithing, and on-site cooperage, or barrel making.
Age: 12 years
Appearance: Smooth Amber with strong legs
Nose: Sweet, Fresh Summer Fruits with warm baked goods.
Palate: Very smooth with a peppery note at the back of the mouth, cinnamon spice and sweet Honey
Finish: Sweet and Spicy, very warm.
Overall: Really well rounded.
It’s often thought of as a slight on the reputation of a Whisky when it’s said that it’s a common introduction to the world of Scotch but in this case I think it’s just an excellent reinforcement of why it’s so popular.
You can hand this to anyone, be they a new palette to Whisky or an old salt and you’ll likely get the same reaction “a very nice dram indeed”
Perhaps overall the feel is just a little too well rounded for me, it’s got lots of flavors but it always tastes just a little bit to the slight side of personality.
It’s a great drink and could easily be sipped at any point without regret but I like a bit more of an identifiable attribute to my drinks and for that reason it’s not going to be one of my favourites. Especially when there are options out there with a lower price point delivering the same, if not more, of an experience.
Something like the 14 Rum Cask for me offers a bit more personality for just a little more money and it’s probably where I’d prefer to spend my own hard-earned but if it’s available at a good price, or on a bar as the specialist option then I’d be happy to take it every time.