husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel


The Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel has come across my path a couple of times.  The first time was a gift from my sister for Christmas back in 2010 (Cask 2869, Bottle 137).  That bottle developed my affinity for this dram, because at first blush, it was a little tough for me. 

However, it grew on me quickly.  The packaging is really cool and worth noting.  It comes with the Barrel and Bottle numbers hand written on the label.  This adds a unique character to each one, and certainly makes you want to hunt down a favorite version.

After a while, I began to understand the depths of this one.  I feel that having this dram in the wintertime was proper due to the combination of the oily texture and warming feeling.  It can be a bit assertive for a Speyside at first, but once you give it a chance to breathe and get to know it a bit, it will reward you for your patience.
My Empty 15yr Single Barrel

The Balvenie Single Barrel is a 15 year old single malt which is drawn from a single traditional oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable.  While each cask is subtly different, I have to admit that there is extraordinary consistency between the few different samples I have tried.  (Cask 5618, Bottle 119 @ tasting 4/4/12)

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Aggressive, a bit ‘hot’, but still fragrant.  There is a distinct Oak mixed in amongst it all.  A few drops of water really reveal the vanilla and honeyed notes.

Palate:  On the tongue there is some spiciness and charred wood.  Malty.  On the exhale you can really feel the bittersweet combination of the Oak and fruits (apples?) along with a steady peppery/gingery overtone.

Finish:  This has a medium to long finish, and it continues to be peppery. Closes out the show with a hint of liquorice and a thick coating of spiciness.


I love The Balvenie.  Out of their entire product line though, I find this one to be a bit ‘harsh’ for lack of a better phrase than the others I have tasted.  This is probably due to the higher ABV, but I am not 100% sure.  I would say that it is the least smooth of the bunch, and nearly borders on being a bit too robust for my personal taste.  At this price point I would likely take one of a few options.  I would either move laterally towards the 14 yr Caribbean Cask, regress back to the classic standby of the Doublewood, or more likely spend a little bit more to go up into the 17 yr Balvenie range.  In total though, it is hard to deny the complexity and beauty of this expression.

Score:  85

Tasting notes from 2011 and the present

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