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Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel Sherry Cask

Nozinan Mini and Sample Series - 84

2 286

@NozinanReview by @Nozinan

24th Mar 2023


Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel Sherry Cask
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

My first experience with Balvenie was a bottle of their single cask series, back in 2011, the first year of my whisky journey. I bought one for my uncle after reading about it or hearing about it on a video review. When I tried it I liked it and I think that I bought a bottle from the same cask, which now rests in the bunker. I believe that summer I also tasted from a different bottle at a bat mitzvah, but sadly not under controlled circumstances. I have had little exposure to the distillery since, other than a 14 YO Carribean cask my uncle picked up one year at duty free.

After a few years they dropped the 15 YO SB in favour of a 12 YO SB which I think I got for my uncle as well. It was not bad but not as tasty as I remembered my original exposure to be.

Fast forward to an epic tasting last September (3rd, to be exact), when @fiddich1980 cracked this one open. This was my first sherry-cask matured Balvenie, I believe. He was kind enough to let me pour a sample.

This expression is reviewed in a Glencairn in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.

I don’t often comment on the colour but this one is so dark it almost looks like sherry.

Nose: 22.5/25

Sweet, concentrated sherry. Cinnamon, a touch of shoe polish. It has an “old” smell to it. I get a hint of play-dough. It’s quite a pleasant nose. Water brings out a hint of toffee.

Taste: 21.5/25

Quite spicy on first sip. It is very sweet. A little thin on the mouthfeel, which contrasts greatly with the powerful taste. Very peppery on the development. There is a little alcohol nip, despite the ABV in the 40s. Water ups the pepperiness. (21/25)

Finish: 21/25

Fairly long, peppery. A bit astringent.

Balance: 21/25

The nose is rich but doesn’t prepare you for the very spicy palate. A little thin on the mouthfeel, not very complex.

Score: Neat - 86/100 With Water: 85.5 /100

I think this is a solid whisky. There is certainly nothing wrong with is and it is great for sipping under a number of conditions. I’m grateful to @fiddich1980 for opening this with us and for the sample.

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Victor commented

@Nozinan thank you very much for your review.

I have had a lot of experience with various 'The' Balvenie whiskies. Those experiences have been all over the place. At its best Balvenie is quite wonderful. It has LOTS of batch variability in my experience, so I never know quite what to expect from any given bottle of it. Some examples:

1) first taste from a heel of a friend's bottle of a 10 yo expression--Heavenly, sweet, delicate, refined, and sucked me into Scottish single malt whisky.

2) first bottle of Balvenie 12 yo Doublewood-- meh, nothing-y, pretty awful...until it took 2-3 years of air, at which point it became pretty good.

3) second bottle of 12 Doublewood-- a gift from my brother-in-law-- oh no! why did he give me the only whisky I knew I did not like? I gave the bottle to my sister. Surprise! When we drank from it it was VERY good, and much much better than had been my first bottle with the same label

4) Balvenie 10 yo Founders Reserve...great, great, little whisky. Always loved it, always will, so, of course Balvenie discontinued it !!!

5) Balvenie 12 yo Signature, very tasty, but, like standard Glenfiddich 15 yo just way way too weak and dilute. Never wanted to buy a bottle.

6) Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask. Thought I had made another Balvenie bad mistake at first, no real flavour...but, after a few months it blossomed and became quite good.

7) Balvenie 15 yo SB, didn't like some of my tastes of it out, then later had some others I did like. I bought a bottle. At first it was shy and not much going on. It became quite good with more air.

8) Balvenie 17 yo Doublewood, EXCELLENT whisky. I am a huge fan, and I own a bottle, even though it is expensive.

9) Balvenie 21 yo Portwood, oh yes, this can be the nectar of the gods, which is what my first few tastes of it were. However, the one and only bottle of it I have bought was nowhere near as good as every other taste of it I have had. Caveat emptor.

10) Balvenie Tun 1401, Batch 9. I have tasted one or two of the Tun 1401s and they were beautiful, albeit expensive. I bought a bottle of Batch 9 when I had the chance to get it at an excellent price, $ 223.50 incl tax, which at the time was the most I had ever spent on a bottle. Why? I knew it would likely quickly be worth at least twice what I paid for it, and that it was likely a beautiful whisky. I haven't opened this one up yet. I am not worried about its quality.

11) Balvenie 15 yo Sherry Cask-- last but not least, I own an unopened bottle of the same Balvenie 15 yo Sherry Cask which is being reviewed here. Reviews of this one have generally been excellent, which is why I bought it, even though it cost more than I wanted to spend for it. My one comment for my friend Dr@Nozinan is that your score might have been a lot higher if this bottle had been left to breathe for a couple of months. I am of course eager to one day find out for myself what my bottle of this tastes like. If it is anywhere near as good as the 17 Doublewood I will be delighted.

Whisky teaches us to live in the moment. Each taste is unique.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

Nozinan commented

@Victor thanks for reminding me that I had indeed tasted a Sherry-cask Balvenie before. You might say I have had a tun of it…

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

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