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Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood

Oak with a Cherry on Top

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RReview by @Rigmorole

18th Mar 2013


Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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This one is transferred from a traditional oak (bourbon) cask to a sherry cask, so it's got some bourbony and sherry overtones in it.

Nose: Oak, vanilla, all spice, bourbon, sherry

Body: Fairly good mouth feel for a 12. Coats tongue pleasantly but not in a chewy fashion.

Palate: Cherry stones (that's the bourbon), oak, toffee, sherry, fairly hot alcohol for 40% ABV and 12 years; water does not improve this dram, at least not for me. It's better without water, despite the heat from the alcohol burn. If you can't abide some burn, then water it down at your own risk. You will lose some flavor, unless it's just a few wee drops you add. That would be fine.

Finish: Medium length, warming, slight bourbon note followed by the wood. I didn't get much sherry influence in the finish. Like I said, it's a little on the hot side.

My first good single malt scotch was a bottle of Lagavulin, and my second was a bottle of Balvenie 12. I think it was the Double Wood, not sure. At any rate, most beginners like this whisky. These days, I order it when some of my other favorites are not in a bar.

Comparisons to other Balvenies ( by price and by tasting notes): $53 is a fair price for the 12 Double Wood in Oregon. This said, I'm more interested in other whiskies these days. I drank this one recently as a small bottle, not a full sized bottle.

Lately, I've tasted the 12, 15 (single barrel), and 21. The 15 was my favorite in retrospect. I enjoyed the 15 very much. It costs $83 in Oregon, which also seems like a very decent price to me.

By contrast, the 21 Portwood sells for $210, which is far too expensive for what you get. Age did not improve it. I would have bottled the same casks at 18 years. I think the extra three years put this one over the top. It's too woody and a tad bitter as the older ones sometimes become.

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Rigmorole commented

By the way, the 15 was matured in a bourbon cask, of course. I taste more bourbon influences in Balvenies than in most other single malt scotches. That doesn't always grab my tastebuds, but the casks used for the 15 were very nice indeed. Why mess with a good thing. When a whisky slumbers and snores so peacefully in the depths of a dark barrel like some pleasure palace of Kubla Khan's, for gads sakes, leave 'er there! Aye!

Rather than the cloying cherry stone overtones that sometimes result, the 15 is silky smooth with a delightful mouthfeel and a wonderful vanilla bean and toffee swirl that envelopes the nostrils and tastebuds quite handily in a symphony of flavors that work amazingly well together.

The 15 single barrel definitely has rigmoroles Seal of Approval: A "must try."

11 years ago 0