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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 13, 2013


Revising my Balvenie

Let’s have two Balvenies that I’ve always enjoyed but that I haven’t tasted since, er, their 2004 versions. What’s more, one of them is now bottled at a much higher strength.

Balvenie 21 yo 'PortWood' (47.6, OB, +/-2012)

Balvenie 21 yo 'PortWood' (47.6, OB, +/-2012) Three stars and a half This baby used to be bottled at 40% vol. in the olden days but I think it used to be one of the biggest malts ever bottled at 40% ;-). WF 86 back in 2004. Colour: full gold with apricoty hues. Nose: what’s quite striking is the mint that comes through right at first sniffs, or rather the rubbed cassis leaves. Those play first violin for quite a few seconds, before the expected Balvenieness starts to appear, with ripe plums, quinces, nectar, wild flowers (dandelions) and quite some brown sugar (cassonade, crème brulée). A leafier Balvenie altogether, I’m not 100% sure yet it’s as great as it used to be when it was lighter (yeah, amazing). Mouth: I hate to write that but maybe it’s a little too strong, as if the higher alcohol clashes a bit with all the red and black berries from the Port. It tastes kind of slightly overcooked and kirschy but other than that, it’s very fine, quite jammy, becoming a little smoother and rounder. Again a leafiness as well. Finish: long, maybe a tad undecided so to speak. Juicy peaches. Comments: very good, obviously, but I feel that in this version, the Port and the spirit are fighting together, not unlike two fruits that shouldn’t go into the same fruit salad. Maybe mirabelles and cassis? SGP:651 - 83 points.

Balvenie 30 yo 'Thirty' (47.3%, OB, +/-2013)

Balvenie 30 yo 'Thirty' (47.3%, OB, +/-2013) Five stars I always loved the Thirty. The strength hasn’t changed, it’s always a cask-strengthish 47.3%, in true William Grant fashion. I think I also had it at the World Whisky Awards 2013. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, this is so much more to my liking on the nose. Pure honey, really. In my experience almost all official Balvenies are honeyed (especially the old ones) but this is actually even more honeyed than honey. You may add a few very ripe apricots and yellow plums (mirabelles). Enough said. Mouth: superb, punchy yet silky, extremely honeyed and jammy, with some brown sugar and fudge coating the whole. I love this richness that never becomes ‘too much’. Vanilla-infused acacia honey like a good friend uses to make. Finish: long, smooooth, rounded, honeyed, with a little orange and mint in the aftertaste that keep your palate as fresh as a baby’s. Comments: perfect, one of my favourite honeyed Speysiders (as opposed to the sherried ones). SGP:641 - 91 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Balvenie I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback







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