Last time I reviewed the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, one of the most in-your-face smoke and iodine Islay scotches available. Today is the exact opposite, a fine scotch from Speyside. The folks over at Balvenie are known for making one of the smoothest, most pleasant whiskeys available. Tonight I am drinking their Single Barrel 15 year that a good friend got me for Christmas. A totally excellent gift.
So the first thing I should probably explain is that this is a single malt, single barrel scotch. If your scotch just says single malt on it, what it means is that it is a blend of whiskies from a particular distillery. If it says single barrel, it is unblended (except with water (unless marked cask strength) and caramel coloring is also permissible) and comes from a single cask. Mine is bottle number 56 from cask number 6230. It was put in the cask on March 15, 1996 and was bottled on August 11, 2011, which makes it a little more than 15 years old. These whiskies might vary from cask to cask, but as far as Balvenie goes, the 15 year is pretty consistent from bottle to bottle. Pretty cool that someone took the time to write this out by hand on the label.
The Balvenie is owned by the same people as Glenfiddich (the Grant family), the bestselling single malt in the world. Balvenie does not sell as well (it is generally pricier), but I greatly prefer it. Balvenie is one of the few distilleries who still malts their own barley that is grown on their adjoining farm. The result is a really luxurious-tasting scotch, which is frequently described by drinks writers as “honeyed” and the like. It is really easy to drink, that’s for sure. Because it is so smooth, it really does not require more than a drop or two of water to open it up. I’m definitely getting some honey and vanilla flavors, with a little bit of spice. If I cut out halfway through the title fight, this is the reason. Pay Per View is starting so it’s time to finish up.
I give this one a 147 out of 158.3. Highly recommended.