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Early on in my career as a whisky enthusiast I made the wise decision of picking up a bottle of the Balvenie 21 year old Portwood and the 17 year old Sherry Oak.
What an amazing stroke of luck on both bottles because back then I didn't know my peat from my tun. Luckily for me I ran into a well informed sales person who decided to hit me with these two. I have been a fan ever since.
I think they have a solid range which covers a nice spectrum of flavors. The 12 Double Wood and the 12 Triple Cask are nice for easy drinking. As are the 14 Golden Cask and the Caribbean Rum Cask. The 17 has both a Sherry Oak and Peated Cask version which I find very interesting. Then there's the gorgeous 21 year old Portwood.
This is without mentioning the cult classic Tun 1401 and the new Tun 1509. And also a smattering of travel retail exclusives that keep popping up frequently.
One of the newer releases from this Speyside standard is the single cask 15 year old matured exclusively in European Sherry. I notice they don't say cask but choose to use barrel instead. Don't know why.
My sample is from bottle #84 from cask 610 and served at an alcohol strength of 47.8%
Nose: Sour tamarind. Really sour. Rum. Bananas. Tobacco. Sweet cigar leaf. Toffee. Butterscotch. Cinnamon. Black pepper. Chocolate. Dry fruits. Nuts. Dried raisins. Prunes. Cold cuts. Stale oak. I don't the like the nose. It's far too sour for me. The oak seems stale too. A case of Oloroso overpower.
Palate: Surprisingly better than the nose. Chocolate. Black pepper. Oloroso sherry. Dry fruits. Cinnamon. Fudge cake. Tobacco leaf. Dark toffee. The palate works better for me. Not so sour as I was expecting. Quite thick and syrupy.
Finish: Licorice. Oak. Chocolate. Brownies. Lingers.
This is, in my opinion, not up to Balvenie's usual high standards. There might be other casks that have fared better but this one doesn't really cut it for me. Especially the nose.