Built in 1892, the Balvenie was founded by Whisky legend William Grant.
It is situated in the glorious hills of Speyside, close to its sister distillery Glenfiddich, and they pride themselves on maintaining a traditional Speyside Scotch character.
A lot of what they do at Balvenie is reminiscent of the past, including the use of their traditional floor maltings, which also supplies malt to Glenfiddich.
They have risen up the ranks of Scotch producers and are one of the most popular around today.
One of the most exciting innovations at the Balvenie has been “Peat Week”. This is where they spent a week each year creating malt with peated characteristics.
This was an effort to recall the days when peat smoke was commonplace in Speyside malts, a feature that has been lost from the region’s flavour profile.
This is the brainchild of Malt Master David Stewart and Ian Miller, who used to be distillery manager.
A particularly good bottling from the Peat Week series is their 14 Year Old.
This expression is non-chill filtered and has been matured in refill Bourbon, first fill Bourbon, and Sherry casks.
It is a fine example of the innovation happening at Balvenie, and a great way for the brand to celebrate their place in Speyside.
The nose opens with lots of rich floral and earthy notes. It is like taking a summer’s evening walk through an orchard, with blossoms and dew-covered grass all around.
There is a sweet honey note that ties in perfectly with the softer floral tones.
Underneath all this is a waft of smoke. It is not overly pungent but it is definitely present, with a lovely thickness to it.
On the palate it becomes more obvious, but maintains an easy going and mellow flavour.
it is joined by vanilla, honey and citrus fruits. Oranges and lemons give lots of zesty notes that really stand out against the lighter earthy tones.
The vanilla can be traced back to the oak wood and it is complex and deep, with a lovely hint of caramel to it.
The smoke winds itself through all of these flavours without ever taking over. It really lets the dram breath and never overwhelms.
The finish is mellow, with a light body and lots more honey notes. It ends with a hint of floral tones and a lasting note of peat.