I’ve got a Balvenie blind spot. I just don’t get it. Lacks intensity, lacks confidence, lacks interest. I’m working on it…
Balvenie 14 year old, Golden Cask (rum finish), 47.5% A+
Thanks to Yoav for the sample of this. This was his educational dram - his response to my disappointment with Balvenie in general - a cask strength Caribbean Cask (the only Balvenie I’ve really enjoyed, and then, not so much).
Nose - Bright banana sweets, a little table polish, light werthers originals, actually some really bright tropical sweetness in there. This then starts to take a seat behind some cigar tobacco, which I do enjoy in a whisky very much, but I find myself missing and hunting for the fruit again. It’s there still, taking a back seat, floral, perfumed wood. This is an elegant, well integrated nose.
Body - Sweet, herbal, floral toffee, spicy wood, some interest with fruit and wood structure in the arrival - lovely in fact. Great balance with the spice and sweet toffee.
Finish - Medium/short finish, ending is on quite bitter tobacco, and numbing in the same way that cigar tobacco is.
What's not good about it: There are some clumsy steps here - in the immediate arrival it’s a bit awkward, and the finish doesn’t quite hang together.
What’s good about it: But I love the addictive, masculine flavours of tobacco and wood, balanced with that toffee, floral, tropical edge. Quite elegant. Beguiling.
Bally Delicious 23 year old, 54% A⊕
Thanks to Shai for this sample. This is a Balvenie that’s been teaspooned and part of the Master of Malt Single Cask range. You can still buy it from the Times Whisky Club (and I’m going to)
Nose – Immediately shows more mid-range and intensity, more sultry depth than the Golden Cask. Very lovely, sweet, dusty raisins and a beautiful sappy wood character. Just the merest hint of drying sulphur (all good in this case). An absolutely enchanting lesson in elegantly sherried sweetness. Fabulous.
Body - Unexpectedly smoky, although still quite lightly so. The drying sulphur is very good here, perfectly in balance. The smoke has me confused but very happy. Some more tobacco. Just stunning.
Finish - It’s all going so well but then I’m let down a bit by the end of the end. Some bitterness and a one dimensional sourness takes over right at the end of what was shaping up to be something of a blockbuster. Before that we had a wonderful, dry sherry complexity and well integrated wood.
What's not good about it: The end of that finish just isn’t right.
What’s good about it: But otherwise this is amazing hooch - I could spend many, many hours on 5cl of this stuff. Complex, balanced, expensive nose. Wonderful, smoky, sherried arrival. Intensity and joy.