Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #312

The Balvenie 17yo Sherry Oak
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
43% abv

A few years ago Balvenie introduced a limited release 17yo that had been finished in casks that had previously held peaty Islay whisky called The Balvenie 17yo Islay Cask. Today, that bottling is highly collectible and it spawned a series of annually released 17yo expressions from malt master David Stewart and his long-serving apprentice Brian Kinsman. We have seen Islay Cask, New Wood, New Oak, Sherry Oak, and this year, The Balvenie Rum Cask 17yo (to be tasted on the next post).

This release spent all of its 17 years maturation in European oak casks that used to hold oloroso, the dark, glycerine-rich "scented" Spanish sherry. This presents a rare opportunity as most Balvenies contain significant percentages of American oak and only rare single casks like Cask 191 (50 year old and £6000 per bottle) show The Balvenie under full sherry influence.

DISCLAIMER: Please let it be known that I currently work for William Grant and Sons family-owned Scottish distilling company that owns The Balvenie distillery. If you choose to take my tasting notes as bullshit and Dr. Whisky has not, after 311 Malt Missions, earned your trust as a source of honest presentations of whiskies good and less good, then so be it. But I do vow to maintain objectivity and am under no constraints from my current employers with regards to how to present their whiskies. As a result are the listed impressions are my own, as always.

For distillery info and to see all Balvenies had on the mission, click HERE.


Rich and sweet with heavy sherry influence. Peppery like shiraz. Spicy like coffee. Some oysert sauce and wax. Very fruity, jammy, and brilliantly oaky.

Less sherried than expected, more honey and vanilla creme at first, then explodes with toasted nuttiness, rich fruit and an array of spice including aniseed and cloves. Mmm, dark chocolate and candied cherries. Espresso. Flavours linger without much development beyond their initial statements, but fortunately that complex array is deep and rich from the beginning.


A very unique Balvenie and as close to Macallan or Glenfarclas' sherried style that the distillery gets. Although it is not a drop I personally reach for regularly, those who like it (ie. sherry cask lovers) will like it a lot. It sold out rapidly in certain countries and is highly sought after by many, a phenomenon that will only increase in time as the few remaining cases get snatched up. It has all the sherry you could want while maintaining a balance of the Balvenie's core flavours and the rich oakiness one would expect from 100% maturation in sherry casks. Kristin points out that the flavour profile suggests evening consumption rather than breakfast dramming. Absolutely, but don't let me stop you!

Malt Mission #311
Malt Mission #313
Malt Mission #314
Malt Mission #315

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