Balvenie is one of the largest and most famous distilleries in Scotland producing over 5.5 million litres of whisky per year. It is located in Dufftown in Speyside and is owned by William Grant & Sons, who also own Glenfiddich. Balvenie is unique as 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 used during production in the grounds of the distillery. Last year, over 1.5 million bottles of Balvenie were sold across the world putting it inside the top 10 for sales. This 12 years old 'Doublewood' is one of the cornerstones of that success. The term 'Doublewood' refers to the fact that the whisky is stored in two types of wooden cask during it's 12 years of maturation. For approximately 10 years, it matures in bourbon casks and is then transferred into sherry casks for the final two years.
The colour is gorgeous and golden. The nose is full of sweet, ripe stone fruits (think of apricots and peaches) combined with vanilla, coconut and honey. On the palate, this is so smooth, mellow and creamy that your taste buds go into ecstasy. It feels thick in the mouth. There is a glorious fruity and malty sweetness (again the ripe stone fruits but joined by raisins and sultanas), an element of nuts (almonds, i think) and a hint of something spicy (like nutmeg or cinnamon). The finish is excellent and quite long with lots of creamy concentrated fruit (raisins again) and vanilla, with the sherry influence giving a tiny bit of refreshing dryness. Balvenie have produced one hell of a whisky here. It is one of my favourites to date and offers a gorgeous and complex drinking experience. Many people say that the 'Doublewood' shows the perfect marriage and time of maturation between the bourbon and sherry casks and I would have to agree. This is a fantastic whisky and is widely available for between £25-30. Go out and buy a bottle!