The Balvenie


Balvenie distillery is located in Dufftown, Keith, Banffshire (Speyside) and was founded in 1892 by W&J Grant and, quite unusually today, is still owned by the same founding company; William Grant & Sons.

William Grant was born in 1839 and worked as a book-keeper for Mortlach distillery from 1866 where he was soon made Clerk and Manager, until he finally decided to found his own distillery 20 years later and bought a field in the shadow of Balvenie castle.

Distillery photos by kind permission of Teun van Wel


The Balvenie operates 8 stills (4 spirit, 4 wash) and has a capacity of around 5.6 million litres of pure alcohol per year.



More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness

General whisky characteristics: Smooth, citrus honey





Balvenie, Founder's Reserve, 10y, 43%ABV

Brandy bottle presentation

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Oak

Nose: Initially very aromatic with a distinct freshness, turning to a mildly musty and bitter fruitiness (green apple?) after some minutes.

Palate: Lots of vanilla, perhaps custard or creme brulee? Even a suggestion of apple pie with that bitter (apple) fruitiness. It's also very slightly perfumed.

FInish: Medium.

Overall impression: I wouldn't call this very complex but it is very enjoyable.





Balvenie, Double Wood, 12y,

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Warm amber

Nose: Aged oak, forest honey, leather, eventually a hint of citrus and maybe just the slightest hint of (wood) smoke.

Palate: Leafy honey, slightly dry with faint butterscotch and biscuit.

FInish: Medium to long, quite dry

With 3 drops of water: A little more fruit opens onto the palate.

Overall impression: A most enjoyable everyday dram.



Balvenie, Double Wood, 12y, 40% ABV

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed (blind) for MMA 2012

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Liquid gold

Nose: Initially quite leafy but this soon turns more floral and sweet. A fruitiness (summer berries) also develops alongside vanilla to round off the pleasant experience.

Palate: Definite leafiness on the palate, but also a light and fresh woodiness. Tingly (lightly peppery?) honey too.

Finish: Long.

Overall Impression: The leafiness soon gives way to more aromas and flavours. A good 'anytime' whisky, especially in front of an open fire.



Balvenie, Single Barrel, 15y, 47.5% ABV

distilled Jan. 1989, bottled April 2005

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Bugatti Kelch

Nose: A wonderfully perfumed meadow of wild flowers with a hint of slightly minty fennel.

Palate: Light and very delicate. There are floral and slight perfume notes.

Author's Note: My first tasting of this whisky was after a heavily sherried one so I suspected that I didn't get the best out of it, therefore, I revisited this one at a later date with a clear palate:

Glass: Bugatti Kelch

Nose: A gentle warm marriage of honeyed orange, hazelnut and marzipan.

Palate: Very much an extension of the nose. It's creamy, elegant, smooth and very warming. The flavour is not so much an explosion, more a gentle expansion of honey, nuts and marzipan with a slight orange sauce.

Overall impression: Very good. It's gentle, warm and sophisticated.




Balvenie, Port Wood, 21y, 47.6% ABV

Special Edition for Travel Retail

Original cost of this bottle;

Reviewed (blind) for MMA 2012


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Golden amber

Nose: Quite subdued initially, this needs more time .... Yes it does expand and develop, but quite slowly and gently. Firstly with a lightly perfumed, fresh and clean woodiness, then eventually a quite winey woodiness takes over.

Palate: Ahhh much more distinct than the nose with a tingly vanilla woodiness alongside a pronounced suggestion of red wine, nice. Creamy mouth-feel too.

Finish: Long and tingly with red wine hints.

Impression: A very subdued nose gives way to a wonderful palate. For once the red wine-iness works very well. I love this one.






Balvenie, Tun 1401, 50.4% ABV

Batch No.4, one of 2500 bottles exclusively for Travel Retail

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Dark amber to teak

Nose: Lots of wood and furniture polish alongside a suggestion of orange, possibly orange zest or even oil of orange.

Palate: Now this is quite mouth-coating and solid with more of that orange from the nose and a burst of creamy chocolate.

Finish: Long

Overall impression: This is a quite rich Balvenie, but most enjoyable too.




Balvenie, Tun 1401, 50.1% ABV

Batch No.5, various named casks

Original cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark golden brown

Nose: Aromatic wood and vanilla, then (English) Christmas cake mixture before baking.  There's so much happening here but I'm struggling to keep up with it all, I love it.

Palate: Rich dark fruitiness and red wine-iness? Lots of sherry presence, rich and creamy mouth-feel, once again so much happening with this. It's magnificent but even with the heavier flavours it is still incredibly delicate.

Finish: Very long and only slowly and gently fading.

Impression: A true synergy here where the result is possibly much greater than the sum of components? It has so many facets but yet delightfully harmonious. Did I say "Great"? I did now.






Balvenie, Triple Cask, 40% ABV

Original cost of this bottle; Sample, Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich golden Oak

Nose: Initial mild hints of furniture polish, sweet, faintly nutty with a suggestion of marzipan and gentle oakiness.

Palate: Definite suggestions of that nuttiness from the nose along with a musty woodiness. It's also gently peppery but all with a slightly watery mouth-feel.

Finish: Long with continuing woodiness.

Impression: A very nice and quite typically nutty Balvenie but it could benefit from a higher abv.







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