husband, father, lover of many whiskeys, brand ambassador for a few, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society

an average Joe on a whisky journey...all views are my own







Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Balvenie 17 Year Madeira Cask

Environment: 

In fairness, my only time enjoying this fine whisky was at the Balvenie tasting I attended on 4/4/12.  It was a decent sized sample, but boy I wish there was more!  This is a limited edition that was released in 2009, so I can only imagine that over time, these will become harder and harder to find.

Even in the limited contact I had with this expression, it left quite an impression on me.  It spends 17 years in American White Oak casks before being moved into those previously used for fortified Madeira wines for another 4+ months according to Nicholas at the tasting. 

To the best of my knowledge, this wine is like port, but specifically from the island of Madeira.  In the past, these wines were exposed to high temperatures on sea travel, and for Madeira wine they actually heat it up to recreate the effect that would have traditionally occurred.  What does that lead to?  Basically, the wine ends up with additional raisin and nutty flavors thanks to the oxidation.

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Sweet.  Kind of like a cinnamon apple candle.  There are some surprising floral notes amongst the oak that swirl around the rich toffee scents.  They don’t fight with each other though, instead they dance together peacefully.

Palate:  Full bodied and lovely.  The rich opening of vanilla quickly yields the floor to the woody oak in such a smooth way.  Not strong wood, but rather sultry, which develops into a cinnamon spicy treat.  The raisins are here, and possibly even a bit of a tobacco burst.

Finish:  Closer to long than medium, with a drying sweetness.  More raisins and oak on the exhale.

Conclusion

This is one steady-Chevy.  What you get on the nose, is what you receive on the palate and finish.  This is one that stays in line, but is anything but boring.  The complexity and balance are simply outstanding, and you would be hard pressed to find something smoother in this age bracket.  I have to say that the palate on this one was the star, such a burst.  One of my favorites in the Balvenie line so far, but I do need to revisit this one to confirm my love at first sight. (due to the small sample size)

Score:  88

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