Does Balvenie scotch always taste like heaven

This 12 year-old expression from The Balvenie is aged in first- or second-fill bourbon casks, with up to a further year in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. While The Balvenie’s range is typified by honey and a distinct heather flavor, the DoubleWood’s sherry influence is bigger and weightier, hiding some of those delicate florals. The Balvenie is my favorite Speyside distillery, and they have an interesting range of different cask finishes, from port barrels to a new rum cask matured 14-year.

Color: Medium Gold

Nose: Smells like peaches and peach-pit, marzipan, cedarwood and pine, honeydew melon. A drop of water tames the alcohol fumes, and releases a ghost of heather, clover, and mown grass.

Palate is heavy with vanilla and woodiness, complimented by a toothy mouthfeel. Flavors of freshly-baked sugar cookies, caramel, and marshmallow. The sherry oak presence steamrolls the usual house-style delicacy and notes of heather and farmstand honey, but the result is a solid, silky whisky that reminds me of bourbon. Interestingly, the sherry fruit flavors (which usually dominate a sherried whisky) are light and in the background, contributing only some dark plum, fruit pit, and peach flavors. A few drops of water brings out some floral accents without diminishing the powerhouse oak.

Finish is medium-long, relying heavily on the wood accent, some caramel apple, blackstrap rum, toasted clove or cinnamon, and red-wine tannins.

Not as easy-drinking as the Single-Barrel expression from The Balvenie, nor with as many fruit and flower notes. However, this Scotch stands on its own as a beautiful example of what quality Speyside whisky and careful oak aging can do, and with a fantastic price point. This gives oak-lovers a two-dimensional whisky with some unexpected twists, all on a pristine base of one of the best malts in Speyside.

About The Distillery

Built by the Grant family in 1892 as a sister distillery to next-door Glenfiddich, The Balvenie still remains in the ownership of the family. Unusual for a distillery of this size, Balvenie still operates its small floor maltings, grows some of its own barley, and has an on-site cooperage. It now has eight stills, which some think are the key to its nutty, honeyed style – they are fat and have short necks.
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