The Balvenie 21 Years Old PortWood Finish
Stating the obvious here, but The Balvenie 21 Years Old PortWood Finish receives a finish in (you guessed it) port pipes. Only for a couple of few months, mind you. Which is probably for the best, since Port has the tendency to dominate the spirit.
The Balvenie is one of the Dufftown distilleries and is closely related to Glenfiddich (owned by the same family). I always think of it as the smaller, more craft-like brother of Glenfiddich, conveniently forgetting they produce seven million liters (!) of pure alcohol per annum, making Balvenie one of the biggest malt distilleries in Scotland.
The Balvenie 21 Years Old PortWood Finish (40%, OB, 2016)
Nose: A very mature first impression. Damp wood, wet rotten leaves. But blackcurrants play a starring role. Also peaches and a hint of brown sugar, with cinnamon buns and cookie dough.
Taste: Forest fruits, cherry’s and raisins. There’s some honey notes, as well as some soft tannins and a pinch of black pepper. Very delicate, partly because of the low alcohol percentage, but also because it just is a delicate whisky with lots of little intricacies. The port influence is a bit more dominant on the palate.
Finish: A tad bitter with a hint of dark chocolate. Medium in length.
Excellent whisky from Balvenie, although with an asterisk. Because I can’t help but wonder how this tastes at a higher percentage. This matures for over 21 years, and then you undo a lot of that work by watering it down to the lowest possible level. Is 46 percent really too much to ask for?
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.