Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tasting: Balvenie. Single Barrel. 15 Year

The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Non Chill-Filtered

Distillery: The Balvenie
Age: 15 years
Region: Speyside
ABV: 47.8%
US Price: $95
Release: Ongoing
Cask: European Oak Sherry Butt

Points: 89/100

Similar to the 12 year single barrel this 15 year old is also fully matured in a single barrel, but this time a European oak sherry butt and is one of no more than 650 bottles.  Coming in at 47.8% ABV, this dram is packed full of flavor! 

There are conflicting opinions out there on whether or not The Balvenie adds any artificial coloring to their whiskies so I have decided to reach out to them directly to see if I can get an answer.  Once I hear back, I’ll update this post at the bottom.  My initial belief is that the answer to this question is no, at least for the 15 year single barrel because I have seen bottles of this with drastically different colors, some much darker than others.  This tells me that this color variance is likely due to the whisky being matured in either a first fill Sherry butt or a refill Sherry butt.  If this is true then I recommend looking for a bottle that is very dark in color.

My particular bottle I believe to be a refill Sherry butt based on the color. It also happens to be cask number 14980, bottle number 545.

Nose: Christmas cake, cream and milk chocolate up front. Hazelnuts, almonds, cinnamon and notes of orange peel.

Taste: Burst of Sherry up front. Medium thick mouthfeel.  Not as sweet as expected based off the nose, more like a natural sweetness one gets from a dry rum.  Some dried fruits, nutty, leather, burnt sugar and bread notes, like raisin bread.

Finish: Long sherries finish.  Initially fruity but quickly transitions into spice and pepper.  Very drying.

Photo & Review: Cody Diefenderfer