Mention Balvenie to me and I get all giddy, I am not sure why but I really love the whisky produced within the walls of this beautiful distillery..
Founded in 1892 by William Grant who re built Balvenie new house and re named it as the Balvenie Distillery although it was originally intended to be named Glen Gordon ! Some of the original equipment was sourced from both Lagavulin and Glen Albyn distilleries, with the first spirit distillation taking place in May of 1893. The Balvenie distillery today has the capacity to produce 7 million litres of alcohol from its 11.8 ton lauter mash tun, nine wooden wash backs and five made from stainless steel, a fermentation time averaging around the 68 hour, five wash stills and 6 spirit stills adorning the still house the distillery is certainly not a small time distillery.
The Balvenie is also one of only a handful of distilleries that still have a malting floor that is actually used on a regular basis, I say regular rather than permanent as on a few occasions that I have visited something has generally broken down..
Balvenie is also the little sister to the mighty Glenfiddich and although the spirit produced is certainly the lesser known of the two distilleries there is an argument that the Balvenie liquid is a slightly better whisky. Also found under the same roof is part of the production site for Kinnivie whisky although the last visit I had the signs had been removed in order to stop some of the confusion.
Anyway, for those who have had the pleasure of visiting the distillery and doing the tour, you will be aware that at the end of each tour you get the chance to try a number of single casks that are exclusive to those who visit, you then have the option to purchase a bottle, I say bottle but I do mean buy as many as you want ! I generally walk away with several as they do make for a great memory and of course the liquid is rather delicious…
15 Year Old Balvenie – Bottle Your Own Single Cask
Todays review is for a single cask only available when visiting the distillery and one that you have to bottle your self.. Do the work and still have to pay for the pleasure, they have us cornered..
Age.. 15 years
Cask.. Oloroso Sherry Butt #2379
These bottles are only available in 20cl sizes and although you can bottle as many as you want it does take some time if everyone wants to take part..
Nose.. Chocolate covered raisins, Turkish delight ( the chocolate covered sweet style ) candied orange, dried tobacco leaf, liquorice, black forest gateau, rum n raisin ice cream, honey and espresso coffee all show up within this glass.
Palate.. Burnt toffee and a little sulphurous to begin with, that struck match type of flavour certainly shows up before ginger and cinnamon buns take over, tobacco notes, coffee beans, bitter chocolate and manuka honey gives a little sweetness.
Finish.. Very drying and spicy..
Thoughts.. Even though this was a whopping 63% the alcohol doesn’t offend, yes it can take some water ( so I am told ) but it can easily be enjoyed at full strength.. Be aware though, that after a while the sulphur note does become more evident on the palate and although its not really evident on the nose it is there..
The best thing though, is the fact this is a whisky that I bottled myself and no one can take that memory away from me.. It does not really make the whisky taste better, its more about the memory of the visit, the smells all come flooding back, the pictures of the distillery are forever etched on my brain and I can still see the faces of the other guests who accompanied us on this visit every time I reach for one of these bottles..
This whisky is like so many others, a reminder of the past, the journey, the effort of those who made it and the fun I had bottling it.. Its not just about the liquid, on so many occasions its about everything else that surrounds the memory, the aromas, the flavours of what is Inside the bottle..