Review : Balvenie 17 Doublewood

I had recently glared upon a post mentioning the Balvenie 17 was going to be hard to come by, discontinued possibly. Though there didn’t seem to be any word of any possible scarcity down under; fact or not, this was reason enough to persuade me to head towards my local Dan’s and get a bottle of this ‘post adolescent‘ aged spirit.

Situated in Dufftown and owned by William Grant & Sons; yes, the same Glenfiddich and Monkey Shoulder clan, this Speyside distillery has a rich century plus history.  The distilleries techniques are still reminiscent of the past, from growing their own barley, to turning and malting them; leveraging its in-house mastery to cooper their casks and even ‘coppersmith’ their stills for any repairs, leaving of course the blending to master distiller, David Stewart. David’s contribution extends beyond the distillery, introducing the concept of cask finishing to the whisky world; boding well with the distiller’s ‘Doublewood’ expressions.

Balvenie’s 17 YO Doublewood is matured primarily in ex-bourbon casks for a minimum of 17 years and then further finished in ex-sherry European casks; the expression was introduced to celebrate David’s 50 year stint at Balvenie and possibly the reason why the bottle and much of its labelling stands apart from the rest of its releases – in a dark lush maroon shade.

ABV : 43%

Eye : Tawny to Auburn | Artificially coloured & Chill filtered

Nose : Rum n raisin cake with a caramel drizzle, woody with a subtle white pepper spice. Chocofudge is followed by a layer of brown sugar and dried fruits, such as dates, figs, with hints of peach. Some red wine with a pinch of zest and some peppermint freshness.

Taste : Starts with caramel and cream infused with red wine and layers of sweetness from sultanas, dates and dark chocolate combined with a smooth yet fine caramel nuance. Some earthiness is indicative with a medicinal spice, savoury bits almost meat like finishing off with dried coriander.

Finish : The sherry cask finishing is evident with some dried fruits, a calming spice and vanilla.

The Balvenie 17 is a skilful, well equipped malt, with a lovely, viscous feel on the palate; long, well defined legs holding against the walls of the glass and a mild dryness, influenced from its time in ex-sherry casks. This 17 YO whisky is lovingly complex bringing with it great depth and a handsome breadth. Possibly overly sweet to some, this whisky is almost aperitif like and a true delight to sipping.

If I were to prod and poke, it would be the artificial colouring, quite evident seeing its rather dark hue. But again, not something I would be too bothered with. At AUD $160, it is a definite buy with the added bonus of being lip smacking and sensuously pleasing on the nose – no complaints there!!



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