Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #113

Balvenie Scotch Whisky ReviewBalvenie 10 yo
Founders Reserve
Speyside Single Malt Whisky

40% abv



Now here is packaging that we all hope sticks. After some years messing about with cognac style bottles, Balvenie has really found a good look that shouldn't join the current update packaging craze. We all hope they don't follow some ill-advised re-design campaign to 'get hip to the kidz'. Having worked in whisky retail I can assure them that the kids are alright. The look is still hot even if some folks around a table in a boardroom think otherwise.

But about the whisky...

"Balvenie Castle" has been the principal building of the Balvenie Distillery since it was established in 1892. A huge fire at Glenlivet in 1891 created a sudden demand for Speyside whisky for blending. Using equipment from Glen Albyn and Lagavulin, William Grant seizes the opportunity and builds a distillery adjacent to Glenfiddich. Distillation begins in May 1893.

Balvenie uses barley from the family farm that it malts in its own floor maltings. The stills are also unique in that they are, well. I dont know how to describe them. See them here. Balvenie is the 10th biggest single malt seller in the world, and to touch upon the point I opened with, this is a 90% increase in sales since the days of the cursive text and cognac bottles. (Okay, they have been gone since 1993, but still...)

Big thanks to William Grant & Sons for sending me the sample(s). We will have another tomorrow. All Balvenies had on the mission can be found HERE.


It's the smokiness that surprises me at first, then comes honey and fruit pastilles. A touch shy. Beef and barley soup. There is a green element in there alongside nuts and raisins, hinting at the slightest sherry influence.

Honey, bourbon oak, and malted barley. Then an explosion of toastiness upon swallowing, showing more of the sherry influence. Spices, outdoorsy freshness and general liveliness that really excites the mouth, physically.


Such a wonderfully integrated package of flavours, often too difficult to pinpoint particulars, the complexity and surging effect of lively flavours make this a real tasty treat. Gentle and complex, who needs the monkey; this is an ideal introduction to malt whisky.

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