Balvenie 14 Years The Week of Peat (2019)
I associate Balvenie with rich, honeyed single malt whisky, not so much peat. But then again, peated whiskies have been all the rage for years now and many distilleries currently have one or more smoky expressions. Balvenie’s contribution is the 14-year-old The Week of Peat, a successor to the Balvenie Peat Week from 2017.
For a week each calendar year, Balvenie distills a batch of peated malt. “In a way, The Week of Peat was nothing new”, says former distillery manager Ian Millar. “In fact, arguably, it’s the only week of the year we make whisky the way it used to be made – using smoke from a heavily peated furnace, like in the very old days when every farm burned peat from the land (and made whisky in a pot over the fire, it’s worth remembering).”
I suppose there’s truth in that and this sort of brings Balvenie back to the roots of whisky making, when pretty much all Scottish distilleries used peat to kiln their malted barley. So I’m curious to taste this throwback. However, I’m happy for Balvenie to keep it to one peated whisky—there’s enough smoked Scotch out there as it is.
Balvenie 14 Years The Week of Peat (48.3%, OB, 2019)
Nose: Herbal peat with a hint of vinyl flooring and sauerkraut. Mostly soft tobacco leaves though, supported by sweet vanilla and macadamia nuts with a touch of zesty lemon and eucalyptus in the background.
Taste: Proper creamy mouthfeel. Soft smoke but certainly present. There’s even some salt and kippers, before settling in a more earthy, warming territory. A touch of charred citrus peel and cloves.
Finish: Smoky, elegant en long.
It’s interesting how this has some Ledaig-esque qualities integrated with the Speyside peatiness. Maybe a little less bright or intense than a young, peated Tobermory, but very good though.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.