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Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

Average score from 4 reviews and 5 ratings 89

Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

Product details

  • Brand: Balvenie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 47.8%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

I've tried a few Balvenies but never actually owned a full bottle until this one. I'll happily admit I saw a Ralfy review a couple of years ago and was curious so bought a bottle and have sat on it until now. This is from a first fill bourbon barrel. Bottle has 2/3s left and open just under two months.

This review has about a tsp of water to a 35 ml pour (it's Friday after all) and has been sat a good twenty minutes. I'm not even going to bother adding neat notes - it really needs water.

Nose: Dry and sour. Some coconut, slight parma violet sweets, lemony (pithy) malt. Bitter honey. Some fresh oak but pleasantly so. Herbal, mint particularly.

Taste: Again the arrival is sour and almost bitter but this is not wholly cask led. It develops into a more creamy malt with some slight sweetness emerging. The parma violet note is there with some mint and rose water.

Finish: Medium. Sour, dry but this is balanced by a touch of the lemony malt. Very dry at the end with some soft licorice root tinged tannins.

This was not love at first sight by any means; in fact I'll use a well worn cliche and say this is not an easy access malt. It's the most sour and dry whisky I've had but it's no bad thing. This is unique and challenging but a very enjoyable whisky and one that forces you to look a bit deeper - It's simple, honest well made stuff. Form and mouth feel are excellent and it's perfect foil to idly watch the World Cup with on a hot Friday night.

@MadSingleMalt Perhaps. Thanks for posting that link.

I have not had any problems with the glasses and I really like them for bourbon. I think it would cost me more to return them than the refund given mine are in Canada so I will use them at my own risk...

@cricklewood Too late...but no accidents...Phew! sweat_smile


A single first fill bourbon-barreled 12 year old expression from Balvenie today. As is usually the case with single barrel whiskies, this one might not taste quite the same as yours. But Balvenie has a reputation for keeping its quality high, so let’s hope you enjoy yours as much as I’m enjoying mine.

Nose: Bright and fruity, almost tropical character. Banana, pineapple, apples, coconut, honey, vanilla, woodspice, and oak. Crisp and clear.

Palate: Tangy and tingly on arrival. Fizzy, even. Honey, vanilla, heather, pineapple, peanuts, lemon lozenges, and lemon tarts.

Finish: Medium in length. Banana sundae here. Bananas and vanilla ice cream sprinkled with nuts and drizzled with honey. White chocolate, lemon candy, oak, faint mustard, white pepper.

Thoughts: Are we in the highlands here? It’s not breaking any new ground, but it’s well made. Classic bourbon-cask flavours with a solid abv, a clean delivery, and a nice balance. Even more importantly for me, this has some bite to it. A tingly, prickly woodspice greets us on arrival and lasts well into the finish. Possibly too oaky for some, I find the spicy dryness works nicely with the core flavours of honey, vanilla, and pineapple. That added kick gives an edge to what’s already a lovely bourbon-casked character. I like this a lot. Recommended.

@Nozinan, I've tried a 15 sherry, but not the bourbon, so I'm not sure how they measure up. But yeah, this is actually a bit rough around the edges. There's no youth or alcoholic burn, but there's a big dose of drying spice. As I mentioned in my review, one might be justified in calling this over-oaked (which is strange for a 12 year old).

As for the price, yeah. It's expensive here too. Too expensive to ever be a cabinet staple. Fun for a fun one-off, though. But I agree that Amrut is better bang for buck. Thanks for your comment.

I found the one i tried to be harsher than the 15 YO single barrel. I had given it to my uncle as a gift. But after a couple of months I poured the last dram and it was a little smoother with more complexity.

Here in Canada it's expensive. An Amrut (younger) single barrel bourbon cask is, in my opinion, as or more complex, higher ABV (near cask strength), and much less expensive (since they dropped the price).

Mind you, the profile is very different from the Balvenie.


Hot sweet and spicy arrival develops a warm thick long slow fruit loaded finish.

The 12 is only a few dollars cheaper here ($65 vs $68), so it needs to be as good. My understanding is the 12 SB is taking the place of the 15SB, while they will come out with a sherried 15. Sounds like a financial decision to broaden the market and make more money. They will charge essentially the same for the 12 SB as the 15SB with three years less, and then add a 15 which will be sherried, but 25%-50% more price.

However, the sherried 15 sounds interesting, but how is it different from the 12 and 17 Doublewoods?

@BlueNote & @Taco thanks for your feedback I really enjoyed the nuances of this expression. I have not heard any information on product changes from Balvenie concerning the 15yr old so any speculation on my part would be just that speculation. Thanks again for your interest in my review hope to read more of your input in the future. (:


Color: honey gold.

Nose: wonderfully sweet. Gobs of orange blossom honey poured generously over Greek vanilla yogurt. Surprisingly tropical too with bits of coconut and pineapple. Adding a little water brings us back to northern latitudes with hints of mountain pine.

Body: medium and creamy smooth.

Palate: powerful oaky vanilla and rich caramel, with a dash of dark chocolate bitterness and spicy cinnamon.

Finish: long and full of buttered oatmeal and decadent cocoa.

At $75, this whisky had to be excellent, and it was, without question. I tried this first in a blind tasting with friends, and everyone guessed (accurately) that it was the most expensive bottle in the bunch, and it was rated the favorite of the night, just edging out the Laphroaig Triple Wood. This is my new favorite Balvenie. I loved the DoubleWood 17 but experienced some sticker shock over its $150 price tag. By contrast, this one feels like a steal. Buy it now.

I've never had a full bottle of the DW12. I've only had a few drams here and there socially and have never had the opportunity to conduct a proper review. It seems like a really solid entry-level (under $50) whisky, but not terribly complex, whereas the 17 was very rich and complex. I could pick up a DW12 for $45. If the 17 cost $90, I'd easily go for that over two of the 12, but again, I might be selling the 12 short, since I haven't spent a ton of time with it.

I'd also say I like the 12 Single Barrel significantly more than the 15, though I'd be willing to give the 15 another shot.

My bottle number 74 of the 12 yr old Single Barrel was from Cask 12678 also. I can't say enough about how I enjoyed it! In several trips to liquor stores I noticed that most all bottles from Cask Numbers 12700 and up have a very light color nothing like the rich copper color from Cask 12678. Can any members shed some light on this issue? I bought a bottle of the lighter colored stuff but haven't opened it. I doubt it will taste anything like mine from Cask 12678 which I bought in Florida. It was just great and I agree with the 91 rating!

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