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."
Following distillation, The Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood Single Malt Scotch Whisky is matured in traditional, American oak casks before being double-barreled, or finished, in European oak casks that were previously used to mature sherry. As a result of spending a dozen years in oak casks, the whisky has an aroma of citrus, honey and vanilla. The aroma gives way to notes of red fruits (particularly berries and plums) on the palate, along with hints of sherry, caramel and butterscotch. The finish is long and warming, with a slightly sweet touch. Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood earned the Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In addition, the whisky earned a score of 94 points from Wine Enthusiast, which called it "silky and downright succulent."
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Aroma of citrus, honey and vanilla. Notes of red fruits (particularly berries and plums) on the palate, along with hints of sherry, caramel and butterscotch. Finish is long and warming, with a slightly sweet touch.