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Balvenie 12 Year Old Signature

Average score from 15 reviews and 45 ratings 82

Balvenie 12 Year Old Signature

Product details

  • Brand: Balvenie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Balvenie 12 Year Old Signature

Does age matter? This expression replaced the 10 years old Founder Reserve not too long ago, I liked the simplicity of the Founders Reserve so was probably a little prejudiced against this bottle from the start.

A sweet zesty aroma, with vanilla and spice. Medium full body with oranges, spice in the form of cinnamon, sherry, honey and a bitter note which I can’t pin down to a particular flavour. The finish is a touch weak with a bittersweet flavour dominant rather like cola, with a touch of orange predictably.

Nice plain malt whisky, but with the emphasis on the plain. I’m not convinced this is an improvement on the Founders Reserve and the extra two years seem to be a reason to raise the price rather than the quality of the whisky.

Nice review...Must agree with you that the Signature series wasn't anything special.

About 10 years ago was when I got into single malt scotch...Enjoyed a few drams of my mothers Founders Reserve...Got me hooked!

Wish Balvenie would resurrect this fine malt, but as of right now - it appears Balvenie is enjoying elite status with their new ranges that they conjure up.

Elite distillers might find interest in their wears wanes as their entry level offerings become mediocre and pricey.


No issues with this one, nor was there anything extraordinary either. Faint toffee, sweet apples with a bitter spicy undertone. No smoke to speak of but a good nose is sold out buy a quick dry finish. Enjoy.


This review is for batch #5.

Nose: Right off the bat we get strong floral notes with hints of green apple, orange marmalade and an overall fruitful punch. Sherry is coming through and the longer I sit and nose this beauty I'm getting a touch of honey and leather now. Definitely could keep my nose in this for awhile. Sweetness and sugary notes are apparent now. It's opening up quite nicely.

Palate: It's what happens when we go from the nose to the tasting that the nose we were "hoping" for is absent. Instead, we're greeted with bitter wood. No honey in sight. The wood continues throughout. In addition, I'm getting quite a a bit of char. Make that lots of char with herbal notes. It's not unpleasant, but not something I'm used too or that keen on. On second pour, its apparent the purpose of this whisky is to be quite dry which it successfully accomplishes. *Avoid adding water. It's bottled at 40% and adding water only enhances the bitter/sour notes.

Finish: Dry, sour, and woody. Not sure what else we can find lurking here. On second pour I'm getting a long bitter finish with hints of spice and pepper, glazed with old dried out lemon (sour). Besides that - not much.

Conclusion: Not exactly what I was expecting, but after tasting it myself and seeing what others have said on the net, it seems to be a quite well known fact that this is a whisky that is purposely bitter, sour, dry and overall quite woody/oaky. It's been aged in sherry butts, and two times in bourbon barrels; naturally I was expecting much more sweetness, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Overall, not a bad whisky, but not something I'd remember for long. On second thought, since its so different from what I'm used too, this could potentially grow on me. Lets wait a couple of months before returning to it and see how it opens up.

What a great surprise. After opening this bottle last night I returned to it today, poured myself a generous amount and let it sit. They key word here is "sit". I left it covered on the table for approximately 15-20 minutes before returning to it and was greeted with an entirely different arrival. Subtle honey and sweetness is apparent now. This is a gentle whisky that doesn't like to be rushed. It benefits from a long wait before diving into. I'm quite pleased with this. So woody and full of oak tones through out. I'm really enjoying this one at the moment!


While I was quickly researching this, I was surprised to learn that this expression is now retired (don't worry, as of now there are 988 bottles still left at the LCBO), given it was part of their core range. Who knows why?Since Master Blender David Stewart created this to celebrate his 45 years in the whisky industry, perhaps it was just time to move on?

Or perhaps retiring their small batch whiskies are part of the distillery's carefully-crafted brand image, in contrast to their sister distillery, the mammoth Glenfiddich. Six years after creating Glenfiddich, William Grant converted neighbouring Balvenie Castle into a distillery in order to meet the demands of blenders for "Glenlivet-style" malt (Glenlivet had been damaged by a fire and was closed at the time). It didn't start marketing single malts until 1973, and despite its image as a "boutique" distillery, it produces 1.25 million gallons of whisky a year and has quite a significant place in the single malt scotch market. It also employs its own cooperage and coppersmith (though they don't tell you that those services also support Glenfiddich - in keeping with that carefully crafted brand image.)

I had the pleasure of visiting the distillery in May 2012 and it was wonderful to feel the barley malting under my bare feet, walk the beautiful grounds and taste the full range - Doublewood 12, Signature 12, Single Barrel 15, Portwood 21, Peated Cask 17 and the Balvenie 30 - each paired with a different dessert created specifically for this tasting by the chef from the Glenfiddich Cafe next door (the dessert with the Signature was a vanilla nutmeg pannacotta with strawberry and aniseed syrup). Needless to say, it was all delicious but way over the top - and I basically had to be rolled out the door...

The Signature bottlings are produced in small, numbered batches (this bottle comes from Batch #5, presumably the final batch) and is matured in three types of casks: oloroso sherry butts, first-fill bourbon and refill bourbon barrels, each hand-selected by David Stewart.

The colour is a shimmering amber. On the nose, quite malty, with lots of vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and honey - exactly what I think of when I think of Balvenie. Orange marmalade, and a hint of pipe tobacco. Water seems to make everything a little more delicate.

The palate also has some of those orange notes, with a little more caramel and mint. The influence of the sherry cask comes through with the fruitiness, though there is a slight hint of sulphur. Full, syrupy mouthfeel. As with the nose, water seems to simply dilute everything.

The finish is long and dry, and a little dusty - an interesting contrast to the palate, yet still well-balanced. Although I generally find Balvenies a little sweet to my tastes, this is one of my favourites - not an everyday dram but an excellent example of the distillery character. If you have not yet tried a Balvenie, this is your jumping off point, so pick one up - especially since it is now retired.

Thanks for another great review. But...bare feet on the malting floor? Careful of exposing trade secrets. Balvenie may not be a peat monster, but now you've revealed why it's a feet monster.

I'm partial to the 15 single barrel these days : )


I tried the Doublewood version and quite liked it, but I liked the idea of the heavier sherry influence so I gave this a go...

Nose: sweet, tantalizing nose that keeps giving soft notes of coffee and caramel and vanilla. The spice of the sherry begins to show after some drops of water which open everything up nicely.

Palate: the palate delivers all the promises of the nose, and is full of powerful sherry with underlying sweetness from the bourbon oak casks also. It provides a spectrum of flavour that is lovely.

Finish: though lovely and sweet, it does not linger too long but is still rewarding. I really like the whole experience of this Balvenie and will buy again. For reference this watch batch 4!


I was convinced by one of the guys from the liquor store that this Balvenie was even better than the Doublewood, so I thought I would give it a try...

Nose: Very creamy, nice oak and spice. Nicely comforting but complex nose

Palate: Nicely sweet, with vanilla toffee and nice wood spice.

Finish: Good and medium length, with the sweetness lingering for quite a while.

This is a nice representation of Balvenie for a quite reasonable price. I think everyone should try it.


An enjoyable taste of honey, spice and oak. Very smooth finish, no harsh after taste. A great Scotch have someone try for the first time.


The Balvenie Signature was crafted to celebrate the forty-fifth year in the industry of their master blender, David Stewart. The bottle alone is pleasingly monumental, with a sturdy form that pours more cleanly than any I've come across.The signature is a marriage of spirit matured in three different kinds of cask - oloroso, first-fill bourbon and second-fill bourbon - to sublime effect.

Jim Murray thinks that the nose 'should immediately become the stuff of whisky legend', and it's hard to disagree. The three different cask styles have combined to create a unique whisky whose first greeting is a rich waft of dates and molasses, exceptionally juicy. The separate contributions of the bourbon and the sherry have constructed a superbly enjoyable whole. There's also a rich fudge note, supported by a firm cereal. The tail end is almost like a sandwich of moist banana on soft white bread, and there's even a pretty distinct (to me at least) reminder of Everton mints (sorry if that's a rather parochial reference, but if you know them you'll know what I mean!).

The palate largely makes good on the promises of the nose. The dates are there, and honey too. The taste is perhaps more dominated by sherry than was the nose, with less balance to the sweet and cereal notes. After the richness of the scent it feels a little weak: if it were bottled at more than 40% it might feel a more rounded expression. Adding water alters the nose, making it arrestingly spicy. It doesn't take much dilution to collapse the taste entirely though, and you needn't add any water to enjoy the Signature at its best.

The finish is soft and rich, matching the nose perfectly. Where the oloroso perhaps dominated the taste, the bourbon is uppermost in the finish, with a medium-length tail of vanilla studded with occasional reminders of sweet spice. Altogether a delightful dram, quite different from the expression its neighbour (and Grant family stablemate) Glenfiddich produces at the same age. The Balvenie Signature is an exemplar of what a talented blender can do to enhance the profile of even his single malts.


Like the Founder’s, the Signature is a marriage of bourbon and sherry matured whisky. It is made in small batches and each batch is allowed time to harmonise in a traditional marrying tun. The Balvenie master distiller David Stewart crafted this to mark his 45th year in the whisky industry.

Nose: Coffee ice cream, sweet honey and cream with a light richness with a definite hint of citrus peel. Oak and tropical fruits sit in the background. Taste: The oak comes straight in but keeps its distance, allowing the creamy vanilla and the biscuity malt to have their say. Light citrus returns at the end.

The signature is the one up from house Balvenie, retailing in the £30-£35 range. It replaced the founders reserve. Pat thought the founders much better, but I (Tony) couldn't taste a whole world of difference. The main consumer issue is doublewood or signature? Not much in it really, they are both very drinkable. The doublewood is perhaps lighter and more tailored to the international market. The signature has slightly more depth. Both are clearly outclassed by the single barrel ....

I've had good Doublewood and I've had not-so-good Doublewood. What I would like to have is the Signature, but at 50% ABV.

a sort of 12 year version of single barrel? Sounds good.


Nose: malt and spice , cinnamon, wood and thick honey syrup. Sexy. Hints of “silane ” and dates in addition to nuts and cocoa powder. Palate : sweet stuff. Great sherry style shining through. Tannins are high. Golden syrup. Sultanas, chocolate cake , raisins some butter too. Finish : butter, vanilla, toast.


This bottle is from Batch #3, bought in late 2010.

Nose: The first aroma that hits the nose is the sherry, followed by spice. I'm pulling out honey and nectar, but not a lot. A good bit of heather and maltiness. The nose lets on that this will be a sweeter whisky than it turns out to be. This is not surprising, as the 12yr Signature has been matured in Oloroso Sherry Butts, First Fill Bourbon Casks, and Re-Fill Bourbon Casks.

Body: This whisky has a bit of weight to it. Medium body at least. Not too smooth as to be forgettable, but not "un-smooth."

Palate: The sweet notes hit about midway through the mouth, with the spices coming in up front. There is a bit of smokiness (or is that oak?), but not much. Lots of spice; not quite as much as the 14yr Caribbean Cask, but quite a bit more than the 12yr Doublewood or 21yr Portwood. This whisky is not overly sherried, but it does have a really nice nose and tip of the tongue sweetness.

Finish: The finish is medium-long, with a burst of spice coming through and aromas of heather and oak.


Founded in 1892 in the Speyside region. Owned by William Grant and Sons. Water from the Robbie Dubh Spring and it has 4 wash and 5 spirit stills.

Two fingers with one cube of ice. Medium bodied with a simi-sweet taste and hints of floral and fruit. Malty notes with a touch of space the rounds it off. Very nice whisky indeed.


Colour is of caramel of sunlight. First breath is of the malty sweetness, but without any noticeable fruitiness. Flavours start with candy-like toffee and caramel moving to a very short and very soft finish.


Nose: wonderfully aromatic and rich. Immediately fruity: peaches on syrup, apricot, oranges. Balvenie’s trademark honey. Vanilla. Some floral notes as well. Very light influence of sherry, noticeable in notes of dried fruits (raisins). After a while, there’s a wave of toffee. Mouth: quite soft. Again quite fruity (marmalade) and spicy (cinnamon, bergamot, nutmeg). The lightest whiff of smoke. Rather short finish on oak and spices. Slightly dryish in the end.

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