Whisky Connosr

Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood

Some fine tuning needed...

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

10th May 2013


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

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The oft-reviewed Double Wood is Balvenie’s signature budget dram. It’s a nice little dram with a light heart and a bit of a sherry kick. It’s a reasonably complex yet well-priced whisky. It’s a good everyday dram. BUT… it’s not everything it could be.

Nose: Quite a sweet, dense, and fresh honey aroma comes first. Certainly not a sherry bomb nose, but some lovely fruits do present themselves. Apples, fresh pears, hints of cherry, nuts, wisps of oak, vanilla, and toffee. What sets this apart is the definitive licorice presence. Licorice notes are rarely as pronounced as they are with this nose.

Palate: Warm and woody arrival. There’s some great oak flavour here, as well as some lingering, ever-present sherry notes. Not impressive, but not dull. I wish the fruity notes were more pronounced. They are consistent from arrival to finish, but don’t get a chance to really flex their muscles. I suppose two months in a sherry cask isn’t quite enough to impress a sherry bomber like myself. A charming, yet slightly rough-around-the-edges spicy note is also present throughout.

Finish: Grain, vanilla, orange, and more grain. The finish is short and unimpressive. I’m reminded of the finish on the cheaper-still Glenmorangie Original, as it is a smooth, grainy finish with mild citrus notes. This finish has slightly more of an oak presence than the Glenmorangie Original, but it’s also shorter and a bit less in sync with the nose and body.

It’s good, but there’s some disharmony here, especially with the finish. The nose is lovely, and the spiciness on the palate is something that I personally enjoy. The problem is that it’s a light dram at heart that aspires to be bigger than it is. The sherry notes are ever present yet they never fully blossom. Disappointing, given that the company deliberately called it double wood and markets it based on the second sherry maturation. If I may, here are some suggestions for the distillery (as if they’re reading this). This whisky should be older, having spent more time in the sherry cask. Or, it should remain at 12 years, but have spent a larger ratio of time in the sherry cask. Or, it should have been bottled at a higher percentage. Or, the company should have forgone the inclusion of the sherry maturation altogether, instead producing what would likely be an affordable, nice, light, summery bourbon-hearted dram along the lines of the slightly cheaper, yet comparatively superior Glenmorangie Original.

While speculative, I think any one of the above suggestions might help bring this competent dram up a notch into the realm of greatness. I’m not totally disappointed. It certainly has its charms and it is indeed a quality whisky. But the company oversells the sherry presence and hasn’t engineered a decent finish that is synchronous with the nose and body.

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FMichael commented

Nice thorough review!

Balvenie recently released their 12 yr Single Barrel (1st used ex-bourbon cask, and non-chill filtered).

It's probably been nearly a year since I've had a dram of the DBL Wood, and from what I've read on different sites - it's been hit, or miss.

I could be off base by saying this, but maybe Balvenie's barrels that age their whiskys aren't as good as they used to be (keeping in mind they employ their own cooperage onsite). Maybe their bourbon/sherry cask suppliers vary from time to time thus causing quality issues?

I dunno, but either way I still enjoy the Balvenie range over many others...Just that their whiskys are getting a bit pricey.

10 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

@hunggar- Agreed. I hadn't thought much about the name, somehow, but you're right: "Double Wood" does seems like a stretch. I even think you found more sherry depth than I did ("cherry, nuts")!

10 years ago 0