Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tasting: Balvenie Portwood 21 Year

The Balvenie Portwood 21 year
Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery: The Balvenie
Age: 21 years
Region: Speyside
ABV: 43%
US Price: $200
Release: Ongoing
Cask: American Oak Bourbon Barrels/Finished in Port Pipes

Points: 90/100

The Balvenie Portwood 21 year has become a classic in the Balvenie core range and a favorite among many.  It has won numerous awards over the years and when you think Port finished scotches, The Balvenie Portwood comes to mind immediately.  This whisky spends over two decades in ex-bourbon barrels before being transferred to Port Pipes (these are still casks but are much longer than a typical bourbon or sherry casks and so are often referred to as pipes) where they are finished until Malt Master David Stewart decides that the whisky a sufficient amount of Port wine characteristics.

Interestingly enough, you can find a few different versions of this whisky.  In Europe, the Portwood comes in at 40% ABV while the US version is 43% ABV.  Additionally, there is a travel retail exclusive that comes in at 47.6% ABV which I imagine makes this whisky even more outstanding. The Balvenie Portwood is certainly not an everyday sipper at $200 a bottle and while not my favorite from the core range, I do not regret buying a bottle.  Would I buy another bottle?  Well…lets just say I’m glad I got a second bottle as a gift.  While this is a very nice whisky, I haven’t had many port finished whiskies so I am not even really sure if I like them in general. Only one way to find out!

Peaches & cream, raisins and nutty characteristics. Slight musty and leather notes with a hint of burnt wood.

Classic Balvenie flavors upfront with big, creamy and honey notes followed by hazelnuts and spices.  There is another layer beneath that of white grapes, black pepper and heavily charred oak.

Long finish. Dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts with a slight bitter and dry end.

Photo & Review By: Cody Diefenderfer

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