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So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Balvenie Madeira Cask 17yo 43%

If you have heard the news coming out of the States you would know the Bourbon scene is in the midst of a craft revolution. It is true that there have been a veritable explosion in working distilleries across the US, but the jury on the question if small is better is still out. A flipside which those with vested interests would have you believe is that big is bad, or at least mostly bad. The answer to this is certainly not – big distilleries are capable of producing excellent whisky, you just have to find it.

Without fluffing about, and ignoring the marketing, we will just have to accept that Balvenie counts among the very largest of distilleries. 11 stills! But, by and large, and ask anyone who’s had a few Balvenies and you’ll find they produce a very decent whisky. In fact it is big weighty yet soft,  I do wonder if it is the best of the Grant trio.

Balvenie stills

(Photo: drinksenthusiast.com)

Is this the reason? The stills are not particularly big and come with boil balls but leading to rather short necks and downward sloping lyne arms – does this suggest a heavier spirit tempered by a touch more reflux? In truth there are so many other variables (how hot, how fast), we are just scratching at mysteries.

balvenie madeira

(photo: whiskyexchange.com)

Nose  Nose: Very nice. Lots of similarities between madeira and pedro ximenez – they are oxidised sweet fortified wines. This appears to be a bit on the drier side of madeira, (Verdelho?) and much ‘fresher’ than heavy. So golden raisins, light honey, burnt sugar, canned apricots, tobacco, and a big nuttiness. Clearly the spirit is big boned and wears the sweetness well, pushes back even, with its grippy fruity green astringence, and together it is all round and supple, and so very inviting.

Taste  Palate: Well.. Malt and roasted nuts first off. Spirit asserts itself with a big hold on your tongue, some tangy fruity esters even. It’s big, cereal-y sweet and round, and simply pushed the wine out of the way. Is it just me or is Balvenie’s natural spirit quite tasty?  The madeira only shows itself towards the finish. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact it’s only finished in madeira. Also low in the woody and spicy department – not a bad thing.

Finish  Finish: Ah there the madeira shows itself, cooked and sugared fruit and light honey again, then grippy again.

Score90

Balvenie puts on a strong show here, shoving madeira aside, punching well above Glenfiddich’s version in ‘Age of Discovery’ but staying far from rotundity. I quite like it really.

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This entry was posted on September 4, 2015 by in Balvenie and tagged .
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