Tag Archives: balvenie

Balvenie Peated Cask Review

Distiller: Balvenie. Region: Speyside. ABV: 43%. Age: 17 years. Price: $100-150/auction.

One of the stronger entrants in the “lovable oddball” category: the Balvenie 17-Year-Old Peated Cask.

Used to getting your smokey prickle from the good old peated barley in the grain bill? The other way is to mature unpeated malt whisky in barrels that previously held peated (most often Islay) whisky. Glenlivet takes this approach in their Nadurra Peated Cask, which I liked quite a bit. Balvenie does the same here.

I should say “did,” actually. This one was a limited edition, and it’s a big rarity now. I was stunned to find it in a corner store a few months back. I splurged on the bottle, hoping it would offer more than just novelty appeal.

Does it ever. The nose has strong dark vanilla from the partial virgin oak maturation. Dried fig. Some tropical fruit. Grilled pineapple. Raisin bars. The peat cask influence comes through as a little barbecue char.

The palate highlights the sherry-matured component first. Then the peat comes through, toasty rather than briny, and much much milder than in the Glenlivent Nadurra Peated Cask. The tropical notes come back late on. The finish has poached pear in syrup, molasses, gingerbread, and graham crackers.

Some people grumble at these peated cask experiments, saying peat should be left to the experts in Islay. I say: when the experiments work this well, bring them on.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Balvenie Tun 1509 Review

Distiller: Balvenie. Age: no age statement. Batch 1 ABV: 47.1%. Batch 2 ABV: 50.4%. Region: Speyside. Price: $350-500.

The Balvenie Tun series began with the Tun 1401 in 2010–a vatting of 20- to 50-year-old rare casks selected and married by Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart. (A “tun” is a mixing vessel, such as the giant tubs used for these vattings.) It was a smashing success.

Hence the follow-up, the current Tun 1509. No age statement, like the first, but understood to be from somewhat younger and less rare casks than the Tun 1401. The Tun 1509 is still quite hard to find and pricey ($300-500), but thanks to my man @egod16, I was able to try Tun 1509 Batches 1 and 2 recently. Very glad I did.

Batch 1, a vatting of 42 casks, is massively rich, velvety, and multilayered. As warm as a comforter fresh from the dryer. Nose recalls the brilliant Samaroli Evolution. Stewed figs and kirsch-soaked Black Forest cake cherries. Baked peaches. Sweet parchment notes you only get from 20+ year-old oak malt. Honeysuckle. Palate is drier than expected. Peppery. A sonata’s worth of tannic old barrel notes. Pomegranate-infused dark chocolate. A finish that’s long, dry, and hugely satisfying.

Batch 2, a vatting of 32 barrels, is fine, but a step down. Winier, but with more buttery bourbon too. Bosc pear and apple, baked, but still with some brightness. There’s younger malt here, no question. Cotton candy comes out with a drop of water. Palate’s more delicate than Batch 1’s, though still with plenty of pepper and baking spice. More milk chocolate than dark.

Both lovely, but Batch 1 is the big winner here. If 2 is a try-before-you-buy, 1 is one for the ages.

Thanks again to @egod16 for the taste, and to Jonathan at The Whisky Ledger for the gorgeous photo. Slàinte, friends! -BO