Balvenie 12-year-old Single Barrel
(First-fill bourbon barrel, cask number 5862, 47.8%)
Balvenie can be found on your local shop shelves having been subjected to rum casks, madeira casks, peated casks, port casks, double- and triple finishes. Exhausting! Balvenie is a fantastic spirit, and sometimes just time in a single boring old bourbon cask is all you need.
Nose: Very fresh and very fruity. Posh jelly beans, honeydew melon, poached quince. Sometimes tasting notes are more “evokes the sense of”, but this really does smell precisely like canned conference pears. Behind that there are little grassy herbal touches: mint, sweet ciceley, even a little bit of basil.
Taste: Pears, plums and quinces! Balvenie, in other words. There’s a richer and darker sweetness lurking too: maybe pomegranate molasses? It then goes a little peppery and minty, before sweetening again into the finish.
Finish: Bananas and custard. O, childhood! Syrup from a can of fruit, and dried apple rings. A medium-length finish, but nicely crisp and clean.
So, the last time I tried this (cask #3119, reviewed here) I found it to be overly sweet; this one however I find much better balanced. The joyful variability of single cask bottlings! (And, obviously, my personal taste…) It is still a very sweet whisky, but less vanilla-ed, and more fruity, fresh and lively I’d say. The strength is spot-on too (I have no idea why Balvenie bottle even some of their older and more expensive whiskies at just 40%…). Lovely easy and elegant summertime whisky.