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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Friday, April 6, 2012

The Balvenie Scotch Tasting Part Two

Tasting is believing.

How honored and happy am I to be sitting in front of this:

The range sampled at this tasting:


What a treat! 

Presented alongside the Scotch and the placemat were a few other bonuses.  There was a Balvenie dropper to add a little water when we wanted to.  A little Balvenie pamphlet with all kinds of notes and information on the distillery, and a nice little notepad and pen courtesy of Joe Canal’s.

I am going to log each detailed review as a separate post.  This is in part because I want to keep things as organized an accessible as possible throughout this blog and also…because I think they each deserve their own space!  Perhaps if I get the time I can post a ‘side by side’ comparison column summarizing my thoughts on the whole line.  For this part of the Roadshow, Nicholas took us through each one and described the differences and nuances between each expression.

I believe we had reached the 15 Year Single Barrel when he instructed all of us to dip our finger into it and rub it on the back of our hand.  A few people began looking around at each other, unsure if he was messing with their minds.  As if he would return to Scotland and brag to his friends about how he got a room full of Americans to rub Scotch on themselves. 

Alas, he reassured us that he was serious, and calmly plunged his own finger into his and began rubbing it on his hand.  Let me tell you how pleasantly surprised I was by this!!  It somehow managed to strip the flavors down a bit and left a clear scent of the barrel and other fine points.  This must be what it smells like at the Balvenie Distillery!  Very impressive, it was quite different than the original nose we got on the 15.

Later on in the event, Nicholas suggested another similar move with the 21 Portwood.  First, we covered the top of the glass with our hand and shook it up and down.  This was nothing new to me as I had seen this done at other tastings.  Except, it was usually done prior to nosing.  In this case he said to ‘Get your hand nice and wet, shake it up and get some on your hand’.
At this point, we were four drams deep and puddy in his hands.  He could have asked us to twist like Chubby Checker on top of a car, and we would have likely obliged.

We took our wet hands and rubbed them together vigorously.  Very quickly, and for about 30 seconds.  Think Mr. Miyagi curing Daniel-san here.

Then, we cupped our hands together to form a tiny bowl of aromas, and deeply inhaled.  AMAZING!!  I was just blown away.  First, the 21 is a stunning Scotch to begin with.  Who knew that if we gave it the Miyagi treatment, it would reward us with stunning notes of coconut? Going back for another whiff, it just kept providing a refreshing odoriferous explosion of the time and energy that went into creating it.
By this point my placemat was now looking empty, and my time in Balvenie heaven was winding down.

David Stewart
Despite my intense love for Islay’s, there is sort of grace that comes with every glass of Balvenie.  This is truly a testament to all of the people involved in the process, and certainly to David Stewart.  At over 45 years with Balvenie, he has the longevity of George Blanda, and the staying power of Joe Paterno (sans the controversy)...I hope he sticks around for many years to come. 

There is a baseline of quality and refinement that emanates from every glass of Balvenie.  Clearly the dedication to their craft has led to every pour of any Balvenie dram I have had to be a splendid experience. 

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