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Balvenie Trio

Balvenie 19 Year |The Balvenie Stories - The Edge of Burnhead Wood| - 48.7%
Bottle Image Credit: The Barrel


19 Year |The Balvenie Stories - The Edge of Burnhead Wood| - 48.7%

I'm not sure which number story this is...but for some context, this authentic expression was released back in 2020, using ingredients that were grown or harvested solely on the Balvenie estate...back in the year 2000. Meaning...water from Robbie Dhu springs, of well as 100% of the estate grown, floor malted barley...which is typically only used in very small portions of production.

As an added fuel source, they decided to experiment with some dried heather, during the kilning part of the maltings. Interestingly enough, the heather was a bit too dried at first, and needed some dampening (amongst other things) in order to avoid immediate combustion. The heather was also harvested on the estate, just on the "edge of Burnhead Wood," which, from what I've been able to gather, is essentially a colloquially used geographical area surrounding this bit of Speyside...but don't quote me on that!

Appearance: Deep copper/Medium brown.

First Whiff: "Kellogg's® Corn Flakes with Real Almond & Honey."

Nose: Pungently sweet...with an obvious almond/hazelnut...corn husk side. Grassy...honeydew, honeysuckle melons. Waxy white peaches and apricots with a bit of chalk-ish clay. With water: Adds that floral touch with a bit of wild oranges/ piths. The husky barley gets a bit magnified though the wood spices seem to round out.

Palate: Rich, creamy velvet...really soft with some prickly spice, like white pepper-y, white tea with honey. With water: Some of those juicy stone fruits re-appear...white peaches, plums, pomegranate with a good coating of raw, unfiltered honey.

Finish: Long, with a muddled sour/citrus coating of the mouth leaving a slightly bitter, tonic water-like sensation.

Summary: A quality production, as expected but I hoped for a bit more as far as sweetness. Balvenie's signature honey-filled nose and classic creamy/oiliness carry most of the weight here while lacking a bit of refreshment at the end. The wood seems to have played a vital role as well, bringing a bit too much of that unwanted spice to the party.


Balvenie 18 Year |Pedro Ximenez Cask| Finished in PX Sherry Butts - 48.7% (Travel Retail Exclusive)
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase


18 Year |Pedro Ximenez Cask| Finished in PX Sherry Butts - 48.7%

(Travel Retail Exclusive)

In modern terms, a PX finish should NOT have this color, but the more reasonable amongst us will understand that Balvenie rarely (if ever) will over-cask a product. Although the "finishing" length is not mentioned, the arguable creators of double maturation surely bottled this expression when the quality was deemed right.

This travel exclusive was unleashed to the market, last year, along with its 15 year, Madeira finished counterpart...both beginning their days in "American oak." A vague term, in my opinion, unless we're talking about virgin American wood. Was this American wood previously used to age bourbon? Or perhaps it was sent to Spain and seasoned with some sherry? Maybe it was sent to France and used to mature brandy? I know, I ask a lot of questions...perhaps I should just taste it and shut up.

Appearance: Burnt amber

First Whiff: Cantaloupe and cucumber salad.

Nose: Lightly floral and subdued...very gentle/soft. Chalky, but not mineral...almost like soapy orange blossom levels. Sweet and sticky like an Italian rum baba.

Palate: Creamy with a tart, tangy citrus feeling mostly. Orange marmalade with a musty, woodiness that falls somewhere between pencil shavings and cocoa powdered white raisins.

Finish: Medium length but firm. Light, potpourri, drying fruits...oranges, apricots, and peaches give way to a slightly bitter dark chocolate and soapy ending.

Summary: Opted out of water with the nose being a little shy and the mouth never really struggling with alcohol either. Overall, this wasn't a very complex dram, but perhaps provided enough "oomph" for the more "high end" of travelers. And since "over-casking" just simply isn't in the the DNA of Balvenie, it's no real surprise this one certainly leaned a bit more towards its initial American wood maturation (its previous use being of little importance it seems). Feels like some tannic/woody stock needed a little enrichment or rounded off with a bit of refill PX perhaps?


Balvenie 19 Year |The Balvenie Stories No.9 - A Revelation Of Cask And Character| European Sherry Oak - 47.5%
Bottle Image Credit: Must Have Malts


19 Year |The Balvenie Stories No.9 - A Revelation Of Cask And Character| European Sherry Oak - 47.5%

An expression meant to tell the story of European oak and its place amongst whisky's history as well as bring a bit of focus onto their Head Cooper, Ian McDonald who's been at the distillery for over 50 years! The site goes on to essentially express the story of "transport casks," or more specifically, Quercus Robur's story for the nitpicky whisky nerd's, like myself.

Aged entirely in (likely seasoned) ex-sherry casks, this release also marks another huge turn of events for The Balvenie as it's the first to brandish the signature of its newest (and only second) Malt Master, Kelsey McKechnie.

Appearance: Copper

First Whiff: Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year.

Nose: A familiar mix of baking spices, honey, grist, and crisp, clean red apple. A very modern (younger) Speyside profile to start. With water: Some subtle stone fruits appear...cherry sours...cooked apricots and peaches.

Palate: More youth with a vibrant, punchy citric note up front which needs time to settle down. Tart and tangy again, like the travel exclusive, but leads to a warm creamy coating of starfruits, crushed almonds, Turkish figs, and confectionary milk chocolate towards the back. With water: Immediately curbs that punchy/bite of citrus and rounds things into a softer, creamier vibe. Cherry compote/cherry pie and buttery toffee.

Finish: Eventually settles into a long, milk chocolatey Whoppers candy feeling with some sweet cinnamon.

Summary: Just a few drops of water changed the complexion completely, for me helping to curb some of those off-notes. It's also one of those have to remind yourself that familiar doesn't necessarily mean boring. The more open-minded seemed to be rewarded after that initial reminder of classic, core line-up Balvenie. There's a really beautiful, sweet medley of fruits waiting to be unleashed, underneath that initial blanket of sour/spice.



Balvenie Trio


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