Balvenie is one of the largest and most famous scotch whisky distilleries in Scotland with an annual production level of 5.5 million litres. It is one of seven distilleries located in the town of Dufftown in Speyside and is owned by William Grant & Sons, who also own Glenfiddich. Balvenie was founded in 1892 and is a unique distillery. They have their own floor maltings (used for the germination of the barley), a cooperage where they make their casks and even grow some of the barley in the distillery grounds that is used later during production. Last year, over 1.5 million bottles of Balvenie were sold across the world putting it well inside the top 10 for total sales. All aspects of the brand of Balvenie - its popularity and core range - continues to grow, with this 15 years old offering something quite unique for a core range whisky. It is only ever bottled from a single cask, meaning that there are never more than 350 bottles in a batch. Each bottle is hand numbered and each cask gives a subtle difference in characteristics from the next one.
This 15 years old is matured in bourbon casks and offers something slightly different to other Balvenies, which tend to see bourbon casks followed by sherry or port casks. The colour is a gorgeous golden brown and the nose is full of vanilla and oak influence. There is a lovely sweetness (think of sweet cereals/malted barley and honey) and some nuttiness (especially coconut, but imagine almonds as well). On the palate, this is rich and mellow. The vanilla, malty sweetness and honey elements are present again in abundance but these are joined by a citrus note (imagine lemon zest) and a touch of something spicy (think of warm spice like ginger and nutmeg). The finish is long but quite woody and very dry. The 'Single Barrel' is exceptionally good, mellow and complex. If you want to taste what a classic scotch whisky from the Speyside region should be like, then get a bottle of this. A bottle should cost between £40-45, which is great value for a single cask release, and is available in independent retailers.