Monday, February 4, 2013

New Release – Balvenie 17 Year Old Doublewood

The announcement that Grant's would be adding a 17 year old version of the Balvenie Doublewood to their core range a few months ago was quite exciting. The 12 year old Doublewood, to this writer at least, is pretty legendary and will always have a place in my heart as the whisky that first got me into whisky. It’s a great complex accessible dram. The idea of releasing an older version is, like most genius ideas, obvious. I’m amazed no one thought of it before.

Surrounded by the Bens and Glens of hilly Speyside, Balvenie is located between its sister distillery Glenfiddich and the now closed Convalmore distillery and accommodates the super rare Kininvie on its site. The distillery is located on the outskirts of Dufftown (home to seven distilleries at present and three additional ones in the past) on the road leading north towards Craigellachie and Aberlour. It is one of the few distilleries left in Scotland to have its own working floor maltings and cooperage on site. To read more about Balvenie - click here to read about our distillery visit last year.

The 17 Year old Doublewood, like its younger sibling has been matured for the majority of it’s time in what’s described on the bottle as “Whisky Oak” (in other words Bourbon casks) and then finished in European oak Sherry casks or “Sherry Oak”. The practice of finishing involves the maturation of the whisky in two consecutive casks. The 12 Year old Doublewood was one of the first whiskies to be created and released using this process in the 1990s.

Our tasting notes
The nose is a little closed at first but gradually opens up to reveal sultanas, lemon sherbet, freshly sawn oak, wine gums, freshly baked bread and spiced like fennel and black pepper. After a while I start to get icing sugar, banofee pie, peanut brittle, honey. The sherry finish shows its influence but very subtly. With water it’s a little fresher at first with green apples and lemons. Then there’s the peanut brittle and icing sugar again. A bit of candy floss too and a hint polished oak. There’s a lovely confected aroma. It takes water very well.

On the palate it has a luxurious silky mouth feel. There’s honey, toffee, strawberry sherbet. Also lots of fruits such as apples, pears, honeydew melon. The Sherry cask influence begins to rear its head with Cadbury’s fruit and nut - Raisins, hazelnuts and milk chocolate. There’s also a pronounced spicy element with a bit of warming pepper which moves onto tobacco, black pepper and pine honey. It’s long and mouth drying. With water the toffee and strawberry sherbet are still there but I think there’s also some added vanilla. I’m also getting wine gums (the yellow ones I think!). Again, spicy and warming towards the finish. The finish is much the same with addition of water but not quite as lively.

What’s the verdict?
I’m in danger of bigging this one up a little too much but this is definitely one of my faves of 2012 (you’ll all be disappointed now when you try it!). It’s an excellent whisky, so full of flavour and complexity and better than many older whiskies in my opinion. While the new 50 Year Old Balvenie is created for the type of people who own football clubs or make pot full’s of cash gambling with your granny’s pension the rest of us will have to make do with this slightly more affordable dram and in my opinion I’m not disappointed with that in the slightest.

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