Working as a book keeper at the Mortlach distillery, William Grant dreamt of much larger aspirations. Dreams that led him to purchase a plot near the Balvenie castle in 1886; a deed that laid the foundation to the distillery and gave it its name. Work however began much later, taking a total of 15 months to complete. It was by 1892 the distillery was built and Balvenie began producing whisky by the 1st of May of the following year. Funny enough, their first single malt was officially released only by 1971, the “Balvenie Pure Malt Whisky” carrying an age statement of 8 years; prior to which they were mainly producing malts for blended whiskies.
David C Stewart, another young bloke, had joined the distillery at the age of 17 as an apprentice, learning and honing the skills and techniques required to making, nosing, tasting and blending whiskies. By 1974, in a span of 12 years, he became the distilleries’ fourth Malt Master Distiller and has ever since held the spot. David was also the pioneer behind “cask finishing”; testing with different woods in succession to understand its influence on the spirit nested inside the barrels. And it was in 1983, the Balvenie Classic was born, an outcome of this newly introduced maturation technique.
In commemoration to these efforts, possibly the distilleries’ first venture into innovation and an un-orthodox maturation methodology that introduced the whisky world to wood finishing, Balvenie introduced a travel exclusive, The Balvenie “Creation of a Classic”. And keeping to its original, the expression too was matured in American Oak and then finished in Olorroso casks. The bottle retains the typical Balvenie contours and is adorned with an image of a distiller nosing a whisky at the warehouse – an ode to David and all the others that went into making the Classic.
ABV : 43%
Eye : Artificial Colouring
Nose : Caramel, malt and vanilla with a blend of raisins, dates, and hints of milk chocolate. Mild traces of brine, oak and earthiness with some deep floral and winey notes. Some spice, ginger and cinnamon tea.
Taste : Vanilla mixed with dried fruits, and a drizzle of honey; raisins with plenty of sherried influences. Charred oak with an almost herbal residue on the palate with traces of cinnamon and a mild sprinkle of pepper spice.
Finish : Sweet vanilla, dried fruits and bit of pepper | Medium
The Creation of a Classic is a tasty, deep, flavourful expression that does justice to the story it was meant to represent, especially at the price point. It’s not breadth heavy but it does have depth and shows off a bouquet of sweetness inherited from both the american and sherried casks. It’s got good body and delivers a more than satisfactory experience; indicating a good selection of malts proving once again that the quality of a spirit is not defined by its age statement.
At around AUD $110 it represents good value and is worth the buy! Not only does the expression hit the mark but it also sheds light on a practice that has literally re-defined whisky maturation.