The Balvenie is a range of single malt whiskies crafted by Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE. Each expression is unique, but all are rich, luxuriously smooth and underpinned by a distinctive honeyed character.
At The Balvenie, we still grow our own barley for malting. Each year we sow barley on our thousand-acre farm, Balvenie Mains, overlooking the distillery. The only modern technology we use is a combine harvester when the crop is ripe for harvesting. Apart from this, the barley is grown the same way it has always been, one of the things that makes The Balvenie single malt whisky unique.
The Balvenie operates a working floor maltings, one of only a handful left in Scotland. After steeping the barley in spring water sourced from hills above the distillery, we spread the grain across our traditional malting floor. Here our malt men turn it by hand until the malted barley is ready for the kiln, where it’s dried using anthracite and a carefully judged amount of peat, adding further complexity to our whisky.
The shape and size of the copper stills are two of the most important factors affecting the taste of The Balvenie. Our stills have varied very little from when the distillery first opened. They maintain the same ‘Balvenie Ball’ shape, with a bulge or boil ball at the base of the swan’s neck – a feature replicated in the neck of The Balvenie bottle. This allows the vapours more time to mix before they carry on up to the head.
Some casks need to be ‘toasted’ to caramelise the wood sugar, just enough to open the pores but not enough to burn too deep. It’s quite a skill, but then our coopers repair, rebuild, fill and seal whisky casks all day, all year. An apprenticeship takes four of those years, but the learning doesn’t stop there: it takes more years of experience to keep everything ‘wind and watertight’ every time.
The Balvenie DoubleWood 12
Aged 12 Years
The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year old single malt whisky gains its distinctive character from being matured in two wood types.
To make The Balvenie DoubleWood, David Stewart MBE takes whisky that has spent at least 12 years in traditional whisky casks, American Oak ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads, and moves it to Spanish oak ex-Oloroso sherry casks for an additional nine months.
The whisky is then transferred to large oak vessels called “tuns” for 3-4 months to allow the whiskies to “marry”.
Each stage lends different qualities to the resulting single malt whisky. The traditional casks soften and add delicate character, the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour and the final few months in our tuns allow the whiskies to marry harmoniously.
Nose: Sweet fruit and Oloroso sherry notes, layered with honey and vanilla.
Taste: Smooth and mellow with beautifully combined flavours ~ nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of sherry.
Finish: Long and Warming