Aged for 21 years in oak casks and finished in port casks, this whisky earned a score of 94 points from the Beverage Testing Institute.
Born in December 1839, William Grant became a cattle herder at the age of 7 in order to supplement his family's income. As a teenager, Grant apprenticed as a cobbler and a clerk, and in 1866, he joined Mortlach Distillery as a bookkeeper. For the next two decades, Grant managed the affairs at the distillery, while secretly learning the art of distillation. In 1886, he resigned from his position as distillery manager and bought a field beneath the towering shadows of Balvenie Castle, which he eventually converted into Balvenie Distillery. Today, Balvenie Distillery, situated in the Speyside region of Scotland, remains one of the most independent and prestigious distilleries in all of Scotland.
Balvenie Single Malt Whisky is made from fresh, plump barley grown on Balvenie Mains, a 1,000 acre farm situated adjacent to the distillery (the farm has been the distillery's source for barley for over a century). After the barley is harvested, it is malted at the distillery with spring water sourced from the rolling Speyside hills that overlook the distillery. During the malting process, the barley is turned up to four times a day in order to ensure that it germinates evenly (Balvenie is the only single malt Scotch whisky distillery that continues to grow and malt its own barley). Once the barley has been malted, it is milled and mashed at the distillery before being fermented using a proprietary strain of yeast. Following fermentation, the wash is distilled twice, first through Balvenie's copper-pot wash still and then again through its copper-pot spirit still. "The most important reason for using a copper still," explains Dennis McBain, Balvenie's coppersmith, "is that it acts as a catalyst. It removes any sulphur which may be carried over from the fermentation process prior to distillation."McBain, who joined Balvenie Distillery in 1959, is one of the oldest coppersmiths remaining in the industry.
In addition, the size and shape of Balvenie's stills — the stills' necks have unique boil balls that are nicknamed "Balvenie Bowls"- results in Balvenie's signature bold and malty flavor profile. "The size and shape of the boil ball allow for the vapors to mix before continuing up the head," explains McBain. "That helps make The Balvenie special."
The Balvenie PortWood Finish 21 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky is aged in traditional oak casks crafted by Ian McDonald, Balvenie's head cooper, for a minimum of 21 years. This initial maturation process contributes notes of soft oak, honey, caramel and nougat to the whisky. After its initial beauty rest, the whisky is double-barreled or finished in casks that were previously used to mature port. During this second maturation, Malt Master David Stewart regularly samples the whisky in order to ensure that the port casks have contributed "just the right amount of character."
The Balvenie PortWood Finish 21 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky has an aroma of ripe fruits, dates, figs, raisins and almonds. The aroma opens up to notes of toasted bread, honey, and marzipan on the palate, which are well-balanced by hints of cherries, peat and cedar. The finish, which is long and smooth, has a touch of spice.
The whisky earned the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2009 and 2012, and earned a score of 94 points from the Beverage Testing Institute in 2009 and 2010.
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86 (43% ABV)
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Aroma of ripe fruits, dates, figs, raisins and almonds. Notes of toasted bread, honey, and marzipan on the palate, which are well-balanced by hints of cherries, peat and cedar. Finish, which is long and smooth, has a touch of spice.