Saturday, February 14, 2009

Malt Mission 2009 #334

The Balvenie Rose 16yo
The Balvenie Rose 16yo
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
53.4% abv

I will follow on the Valentine's theme with a back-to-back post (a year after our friends at Whisky Grotto) partly to make up for the lack of activity on Dr. Whisky as of late, partly cuz the romantic back story suits the theme of the day, but also to get through the backlog of tasting notes I have from treats I have tasted.

The Balvenie Castle sits on a hill above the two distilleries William Grant built in the 19th century, Glenfiddich and The Balvenie. The Balvenie Rose takes its name from a 15th century story that surrounds one of the castle's most storied inhabitants, the Fair Maid of Galloway, Margaret Douglas.

Famously beautiful, Margaret married the Eighth Earl of Douglas, a man eventually thrown out a window to his death. She later wed his brother, the last of the Black Douglas line, who continued his family's rebellion against King James II and eventually found himself defeated, his title, estate, and hot wife taken from him. Margaret had no problem finding someone else to love her in the First Earl of Atholl (John Stewart). And so taken with her beauty was the King that he reinstated her in Balvenie Castle for the annual rent of one red rose.

The Balvenie Rose is much coveted by whisky lovers and was only available at the distillery in very limited amounts: it was selected from four casks from 1991 and finished in port pipes, giving it a rosey pink hue. The whisky has not been coloured, chill-filtered, and was released at cask strength.

For all Balvenie had on the mission, click HERE.


Strong and sweet, a touch of earth and a busy array of fruits and flowers. A touch of water complicates matters by adding sour notes, fruits like plums and cranberries, and unleashing a spice of caraway seeds and a dairy element like milk.

Berries and bubblegum, spice and oak, hot and excited at bottle strength. Water unravels the tight array of spice revealing grassy elements, corn syrup and winey oak. Patience (and water) allow this puppy to show what it's made of.


An unusual Balvenie that surprises most with whom I have shared it. But what it lacks in the characteristic Balvenie-honeyed flavours it makes up for with suprises of fruit and smoke and a kick-ass abv%. Beautiful packaging, in my mind, and a real treat for the scotch hunter, malt advocate, malt maniac, or for those of us on continuing malt missions. Another modest marvel from the modest marvel of the industry himself, The Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart.

Malt Mission #331
Malt Mission #332
Malt Mission #333
Malt Mission #335

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