Whisky Connosr

Balvenie 15 Year Old

Average score from 33 reviews and 83 ratings 86

Balvenie 15 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Balvenie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 47.8%
  • Age: 15 year old

Shop for this

What next?

  • Add to cabinet
  • Add to wish list
Balvenie 15 Year Old

This is another Balvenie mini, this time the 15 Year Old Single Barrel. Unfortunately, the tube offers no cask info whatsoever. It is non-chill-filtered and (presumably) cask strength at 50.4%.

The colour is a medium yellow. Extremely malty on the nose, with much less of the usual honey/caramel notes (loads of vanilla though). Lemon pith, green apple skins, chocolate-hazelnut. Quite floral. Banana skins. Coconut. A few drops of water brings out heather and peat. Quite bright and lively.

On the palate we get lemon-pepper, blanched almond and green banana. Quite mouth-drying. Some chili heat. Slightly peaty. Lots of citrus notes going on. Of course the honey is always present. Water brings a bit more balance, ripening the banana and delivering lemon curd. Some beautiful notes but not as harmonious as I would have liked.

The finish is pine, white pepper and toasted oak. This is a very different beast than the DoubleWood, likely due to the lack of a sherry cask. Although there is no cask info on the mini tube, I am sure this must be a bourbon cask. Makes for a very nice, lightly fruity dram but doesn't have the creaminess or the sherried oomph that the DoubleWood 43% has.


Nose: I love the nose on this whisky. It's so fragile yet pervasive. It's like being outside near buttercups but that's overwhelmed a bit by tiny multiple (seeming) notes of honey and dried orange peel. Pithy but inviting. A real princess.

Mouth: Surprisingly rugged. Packs more of a punch than you would expect from the nose. Obscured alcohol, stewing fruits, but that all rolls off in favour of something grassy, or heathery.

Finish: Robust notes of bourbon with a syrupy reminder of the nose and the first splash in the mouth. I love it in case that's not clear!


The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel Sherry Cask is matured exclusively in a European oak sherry butt for at least 15 years. According to the distillers at Balvenie, “Malt Master David Stewart hand selects each barrel for its flavor of dried fruits, nuts and spice. No more than 650 hand-numbered bottles are drawn from each sherry butt, making every bottling unique and unrepeatable.” Each bottle has a batch and bottle number printed on each label. This was Barrel # 10154 , and Bottle # 87 Neat and aired for 10 minutes in a standard whisky tumbler glass. The first scent on the nose is butterscotch, immediately followed by sweet sherry and maraschino cherry notes, finishing with vanilla spice. At first sip,…. sherry, sherry and more sherry. As you take the next sip, sherry gives way to butterscotch and marzipan on the tongue, and as you allow the spirit to coat the mouth, dried fruits slowly surface. You know the oak is there but is so subtle. Bottled at ABV of 47.8%, truly smooth, syrupy, and just plain delicious. A perfect desert to a great dinner. It retails for 74 GBP in the U.K. about $117US. Certainly not cheap, but then it does not taste like it either. Score 92/100.


This was distilled Sept 1997 and bottled Feb 2013 - Cask #10363.

Nose: Subtle and slightly floral. Caramel & orchard fruit with the slightest hint of woodsmoke lingering in the background

Palate: First up are pear, honey and vanilla, followed by barley & slight citrus note. Plenty of the flavor of the original spirit still in here.

Finish: Medium long - Bourbon & heather, more spicy than the palate, but lacking body and surprisingly not as sweet as I anticipated.

Can't say I was impressed. It's a nice enough Scotch - combines the Bourbon flavors well with the barley/honey/fruit, but ultimately it just lacks any real discerning character to make it interesting enough in my book.

EDIT - once it had the chance to breathe for a month it definitely improved. The honey & spice came out of the woodwork, so to speak, and the whole palate & finish went up a gear. Far more elegant than the 1st week after opening.


My bottle is aged in European sherry butts, and I can't say that I've tasted a better sherried whisky in my wannabe whisky-connoisseur career.

The nose is full of spice, butter, and dates. There is also oil infused with flowers, like some kind of ancient perfume.

It carouses over your tongue, demanding not to be swallowed until it has had its way with your mouth. The flavor is substantial and salty, and just as sweet as it is savory, like good Chinese food.

This is one of very few whiskies I can name that is as delightful on the nose as it is on the tongue.

There is a kind of "neatness" or "roundness" to it that is difficult to describe. Like a good work of sculpture, it doesn't have rough edges.

I can't go as high as you on my score (91), but it is really good stuff. Somewhat delicate nose with a pleasing palate that puts a smile on my face. Definitely 15+ YO as the wood is perfectly integrated with the spirit. Not a fresh cask, but mybe a second refill (?). Went back the next day and bought three more. Definitely a bump up on the 12SB. I was pissed that Balvenie dropped the 15 SB (bourbon barrel), but this is actually better and tastes more like an 18 (at least my cask).


Warm sweet fruit oily thick slow arrival develops a long rich fruit loaded mouth coating finish.

Based on your description and cask number, you must be describing the new sherried 15, not the older bourbon cask version. If so, I agree that it is quite good whisky. I was disappointed they dropped the 15 YO bourbon cask, as it was also very good. But if this is the replacement, then bravo to Balvenie! It is not at all a "sherry bomb", rather delicate for 15 years in sherry cask. Definitely tastes a mature and well integrated whisky with a hint of old wood, all of which I find delightful. I will definitely buy more of this, assuming the quality extends to other casks.

@Taco thanks for your input I do really like this one and it does have lots of sherry in it, so yes this was the more recent one that you spoke of. Glad you enjoyed it. (:


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.


Balvenie Single Barrel 15 year old was part of our Speyside blind tasting with batch number 8590. This dram started quite horribly but managed to get better while resting in my nosing glass.

At first, the nose was horrific, fermented kind of cider. Fortunately the taste was good, which probably made the aromas feel much better for my nose.

However Balvenie Single Barrel 15 yrs managed to be a disappointment in our "whisky society". That's the fun part of blind tasting, nobody quite knew that Balvenie could end up so low in the final score (I'll post the scores later).

In my book, this dram was literally like the movie Bitter Moon. Promising cast and an okay execution but not great.

Nose: Fermented cider and sour apples at first but gets sweeter when added water and well rested in the glass. Honey pops up.

Taste: Watery at first but strong at the end. Mild with toffee or is it just creamy vanilla? Barley and riped fruits. Gets smoother with drops of water.

Finish: Spicy and dry with barley. Bitter.

Balance: Bit of an roller coaster ride from nose to taste but manages to get better. Ad water if it doesn't feel right in a while.

Here's the result of our blind tasting. The winner and second place shared the same overall score but Parliament won in decimals.

GlenDronach 21 yrs Parliament connosr.com/reviews/glendronach/… BenRiach 13 year old Madeira Finish - Maderensis Fumonsus connosr.com/reviews/benriach/… Dailuaine 16 yrs - Flora and Fauna connosr.com/reviews/dailuaine/… Benromach Peat Smoke connosr.com/reviews/benromach/… Glenglassaugh Evolution connosr.com/reviews/glenglassaugh/…

6.Balvenie Single Barrel 15 yrs, batch 8590


This has been a favorite whisky for some time. When it is on, it is all honey, and I love it. Now and again, I get a bitter finish that I dislike. Recently, I have come under the impression that the younger the In Cask Date, the better the chance for an exceptional bottle. Tonight I have opened Cask 11980. In cask December 10 1993. In bottles on Oct 13 2009.

All the honey and alcohol I could hope for on the aroma. Eel sauce. Briny. Then, back to honey.

I cannot imagine a better pairing for this bottle than a plate of Cantonese Roast Pork

Taste: Bitter, waxy, burning. Sweet honey. Bitter, waxy, burning.

Finish: Drying. Bitter.

I have had better bottles. I am giving this a score based solely on this particular bottle. Should improve with a bit of breathing room.

The price hikes are the greatest offender in my book. Dip in quality? Well, I expect some of that from a single barrel whisky like the 15YO or the new 12YO. As to dips in quality from their other releases, I wouldn't know. I don't like the Doublewood and the others are too expensive.

As for the SB 12, it is 70+ in Nashville TN with no cask date / bottling date information on the bottle. I tried one. Not bad, but at that price, and w/o additional cask/bottling information, not a repeat purchase. I only buy SB 15 if the cask date is in the 1980's (or earlier. Ha! Like I'll ever find one of those).

So yeah, The Balvenie has effectively priced itself out of the market for me.

"Quite Hit and Miss" would describe all of my experience with Balvenie, except for the 10 yo Founders Reserve, which has always been excellent. Even the usually great 21 yo Portwood varies a bit in quality.


Nose: A strong sensation of Maple Vanilla Cream (like smelling that variety of North American doughnut), plus some actual cinnamon (rather than the commonly confused nutmeg-- although that is present, too). On a follow-up breath, you can pick out some tart mandarin.

Palate: Not the best part of the whole experience, unless you gulp fast. Starts with an acidic citrus tang, turns to wood and peppercorn, then finally into much more pleasant flavors of vanilla and nutmeg. A little toffee shows up, too.

Finish: After an initially bitter palate, there is a welcome return to the mellow components of the nose: vanilla cream/marshmallow, nutmeg, nougat, maple. Medium length, becoming a little more acidic towards the end.

This Scotch is obviously a step up from its younger popular sibling, the Double Wood (but not at the level of the 21 Port Wood). The high points are the nose and finish, which hold the promise of great smoothness; the palate disappoints in comparison. The main complaint is the acidic character, which is most prominent when tasting but apparent at all stages. This is another good malt, of the light/toffee/nutmeg variety, that entices but nevertheless sends me back to the Auchentoshan Three Wood.

Follow-up: Some good oxidation has improved this Balvenie (as I also found with the 12 Doublewood). There is additional toffee sweetness in the early palate, which is needed to round out that strong tang. The later "woody" part of the palate now has marshmallow. (In fact, now a palate association of the children's breakfast cereal "Lucky Charms".) It is as though the characteristics of the finish have started to occur earlier. The only downside is that the nose has lost much of its spice; but overall I find an improvement. 84.

Thanks so much for the review!

I love how various Single Cask bottlings differ. For the most part, the BV15 is remarkably consistent, but once in a blue moon you get the slight off bottle, or the truly AMAZING one!

All part of the wonderful whisky journey.



I was very excited to try this, being a big fan of the sweet and wonderful Balvenie 12. This one really ups the sweetness level, in a great way.

The nose is so honeyed, rich and sugary that it reminded me of vanilla cake batter. There were more sweet fruits on offer here than in Carmen Miranda's hat. One could really sense the ex-bourbon maturation as well.

But although the nose was sweeter than the Doublewood 12, the palate was a little spicier and longer-lasting. It was VERY noticeably warming as well.

It didn't contain much of the woodiness or syrup flavor found in the Doublewood- it was more of a dessert whisky (similar to the Dalmore 15).

If you need a little sweetness and warmth in your scotch, this one is very special and memorable.

The 14 yr Caribbean Cask is pretty good. I like the 12 and 15 better, but it is a nice expression no doubt. Nice nose, very spicy, shorter finish, but still pleasant. I would definitely check it out. If I remember correctly I was not a big fan of the Caribbean Cask when I first opened the bottle, but it got better the older the bottle got.

Thanks for the review. This is my favorite in the Balvenie range. Your description is dead on. Definately spicier than the 12, with a sweeter nose and a longer finish. Amazing whisky.


Nose: Anjou pear, wild onion, honey comb, slight hints of Pappy Van Winkle 20, summer air down by the deserted railroad tracks in summertime near the Willamette River when your nose is young and keen, your blood is flowing strong, and your whole life is ahead of you, along with fossils to be dug in the flakey sandstone on both sides of you, with a pick in your hand, and nothing around but the birds and the insects to witness you liberate the trilobites from their 270 million year sarcophagus!

Too nostalgic for some of you whisky connosrs? Bah humbug! That's one of the best things that a good whisky can offer! To help reignite memories through a complex organic aging of vegetal matter in the most magical of ways! What do you think "Water of Life" means, eh? Aqua vitae, indeed. At its best, it's merely a crutch to help us connect with the universe that is pulsating all around us, beyond space and time.

Palette: Wonderful blend of organic sugar cane in the raw, asian pear, model airplane glue, floral scents, bee pollen.

Finish: No overly long, but luxuriant. Lingering bee pollen, pear, honey, treacle, honey suckle, pie crust.

I like this dram better than the 21 that I recently reviewd. The nose on the 21 was better, without question, but this dram is not prone to woody bitterness on the palette. That was unfortunate.

In many ways, the 21 overextended the ability of this whisky in the wood. I think 18 years would be ideal for this whisky that I am tasting now in the 15 year bottle. A bit longer than 15, but not all the way to 21.


Belvenie SB 15 Cask 7287, bottle 65 – Belvenie Belvenie…how I wish I hadn’t finished ya off so fast, by far my whisky of the year for 2012. I just could not get enough of this magnificent dram. I never could have just one, it was always 2 or 3, and damn the bottle went way to fast! Imagine the 12 yr double wood on steroids, that’s what you get here! You get the typical vanilla/honey taste associated with Belvenie, but intensified and balanced out with a malty, pancake, creamy whisky that goes down so dangerously smooth. At 47.8 alc. vol, no water was needed at all. I can’t wait to pick up another bottle and try another cask…hope it’s as good!


Color: Straw colored, pale gold.

Nose: Granny smith apples and moss, with a strong burning sensation. After a few minutes, the burning sensation lifts and floral notes move to the fore, along with vanilla and honey.

Body: medium, oily.

Palate: Smooth. Sweet Taffy with hint of smoke and pepper.

Finish: Quick, strong burst of pepper. Slight hint of sweet beef jerky. At the very end the taste of apples returns.

This was a very pleasant whiskey, but not particularly complex. A little something for everybody, but not one to stir any deep passions.


I’m a big fan of this one. Something pretty cool about this version of Balvenie: each bottle is drawn from a single bourbon cask of a single distillation. So each cask forms a limited edition of hand-numbered bottles – there’s a maximum of 350 bottles from any one cask – so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable. There is a bit of difference between casks, but not a lot. A bit of geekiness for you :)

I see that this bottle has a big range of scores here (distance between 83 and a 94 is pretty big) but my personal opinion lies closer to 94. A solid bottle i can show to any whiskey fan or newbie, alike.

The flavor is rich and complex, indicative of a good, long aging process. I loved the strong honey vanilla on the nose, as well.

I've tried 2. The first was a gift (from me) to my uncle. He doesn't collect. He just enjoyed. And he shares! Cask 1976 was really good. So good I found a bottle from the same cask and bought it for another day...

The other was unfortunate. I was at a party with a bar. They dumped it in a tumbler with ice... Never got to properly taste it. Oh well.

I too am a big fan of the Balvenie 15 yr (well - a big fan of Balvenie in genral)...However - I do agree with some of those who've scored this particular single malt in the low to mid 80's; I've tasted/consumed upwards of 5 - maybe 6 different bottlings, and some are indeed better than others.


I figured I had to get around to Balvenie sooner or later, although I regarded it as something of a risk. "Get a good one and it's great, but it's a very inconsistent label," seemed the consensus. So in choosing my first Balvenie, I settled on a well-regarded expression, with the knowledge that I was tossing the dice with a single-cask bottling. (In this case, bottle #48 from cask #6328; distilled 15/3/96, bottled 11/10/11.)

This is a first-taste review of a bottle that's been in my cabinet for a couple of weeks. If I have some second thoughts after the bottle settles down, I'll add them to the comments section.

First nose, neat (about five minutes out of the bottle): Sweet, boozy, and rather one-dimensional. Rough stuff, this.

First taste, neat: Well, this is different. Until the finish, all I get is...nothing! Did I pick up my water glass by mistake? A very neutral arrival and development, followed by a 47.8% booze burn.

All right, let's add a splash of water, cover it, and let it settle a while. After 20 minutes:

Nose: More neutrality. It hasn't opened up -- it's gone to sleep. I'm getting some faint traces of apple about an inch above my Glencairn, but I have to stick my nose in the glass to get some vanilla notes. Anything else is obscured by the alcohol. I'm giving it every chance, but it's not working for me at this stage. Another few minutes allows more vanilla to emerge, but there's just no complexity here.

Taste: Now we're getting somewhere. I don't know that I've ever experienced such a wide quality gap between the nose and the tongue. Arrival and development are very nice, with vanilla dominating. Traces of caramel, smoke, pepper, and ginger. Finish is dramatically different between two sips about four minutes apart. Pepper and bitterness dominate at first, then vanilla and caramel take over. A medium-length finish either way.

So my first Balvenie experience has left me a bit underwhelmed. It's not unpleasant; I'll finish the bottle eventually, and perhaps more will be revealed as the level goes down. A C-level whisky is, to me, across-the-board bland, so this one rates a B-minus on the basis of a few pleasant things on the palate. Again, I have no basis for comparison against other Balvenies. This is just one semi-informed enthusiast's review of one particular bottle.

Kudos to whomever's in charge of Balvenie's marketing. I can speak only for the Chicago area, but Balvenie is always the most prominently and handsomely displayed single-malt on the shelves. You may not find more than one or two Ardbegs or Lagavulins, but by golly, they've always got a full line of Balvenies in the wooden trays with the little metal-plaque descriptors. What's a single-malt novice to think other than "THIS is the one to try!"? My limited experience tells me they could do worse, but my greater experience would compel me to suggest "Save your money and just get some good ol' Highland Park 12."

@WhiskyBee. I think you have nailed it. I finished up my bottle recently after having it around for almost a year. I have seen some very good reviews but I never really warmed up to this one either, and it wasn't cheap. Always had a predominance of vanilla in both the nose and the palate and even with a good dash of water it never really opened up. I expected the usual Balvenie, honey sweetness, but actually found it slightly bitter. I prefer the Double Wood and the Signature 12, and the excellent, but much more expensive 21 yr old Portwood.

I've had a variety of Balvenie's and except for the 17 yr peated I have not really enjoyed them. The 17 yr was a gift otherwise I would not have tried it. I have to agree with you for a middle of the road whisky it gets some great press.


Quite a few of these Single Barrels have been released. We will taste four of them along side each other. The older distillates were bottled at a higher ABV than the younger ones. Balvenie started bottling the 15 Year Old Single Barrel at 47,8% ABV in 2002. That means this is not cask strength, of course. Note than the difference between these distillates is more than a decade.

a. Cask 5803, 04/07/1981, bottled 20/08/1997, 50,4% ABV b. Cask 121, distilled 20/01/1982, bottled 26/06/1998, 50,4% ABV c. Cask 106, distilled 27/02/1991, bottled 27/07/2006, 47,8% ABV d. Cask 8748, distilled 28/09/1993, bottled 12/11/2008, 47,8% ABV

To make what follows a little easier to read, let us simply call the samples a, b, c and d.


Remarkably none of the four show the explicit fruitiness that you would expect from Balvenie. Sure, it has fruit left and right, primarily white, but the typical oranges are nowhere to be found on the nose. Two barrels even show heavy herbal and grassy notes, completely unexpected.

a. Grassy on fresh dandelions, heather, vanille, honey, Apple, pear. Some oak and pepper. b. Sweet, on vanilla, toasted bread, banana, burnt sugar, with a hint of smoke. c. Very sweet on butterscotch and toffee. Very soft and almost devoid of spices. Herbal on dried grass. d. Grainy on malt, slightly spirity. Reminds me of lager beer. Fresh wood shavings.

On the nose, sample b, the distillate from 1982, is my favourite.


All of them are creamy on the palate, but the attack differs quite a bit. Those with the higher ABV are more feisty (doh!), but all four are completely different.

a. Feisty on honey, white fruit and quite a bit of pepper. b. Nicely fruity, this one. Citrus, apricots and plums. Some brown sugar. Smoke. c. Just like on the nose, some butterscotch and toffee. Werthers Originals on spices. d. Rather spirity. A little white fruit and vanilla, quite some tannins.

Again sample b takes the First prize. Sample d, which I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt on the nose, quickly sinks to the bottom of this list.


All four Single Barrels have a pretty long finish, although one is better than the other, of course. Only sample d, the misfit in this line-up, has a shorter finish than the others.

a. Long, on white fruit and pepper. Slightly drying like tea. b. Long and fruity on citrus and some liquorice. c. Long on a strange salty tang towards the end. Interesting. d. Medium long on white fruit and oak. Completely in line with the nose.

Cask 121 from 1982, bottled in 1998, is by far the best in this line-up, while cask 8748 from 1993, bottled in 2008, was my least favourite. Having said that, even sample d is still a fine dram, despite the somewhat spirit character. It would not be fair to give them an average score of 83,5, so let me just put out the four scores.

a 83/100, b 87/100, c 84/100, d 80/100

It is interesting to see the differences among the various barrels sampled. A single barrel is unique.


I'm a certified Islay nut (this is written by Tony), and rarely venture to the world of Speyside, but The Balvenie single barrel is the whisky the made me first broaden my horizons.

The Single Barrel is a 15 year-old single malt matured in a bourbon cask. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles. Nevertheless, there is in my opinion a fair degree of consistency between them. Pat's notes:

Nose: One of the sweetest and most fruity noses of any malt, bursting with exotic fruits in syrup. Palate: Hedonism in a glass, with vanilla drenched candies, tinned peach and pear, a tinned fruit dessert in a glass. Finish: More of the same. A one hit wonder of a whisky. But what a wonderful one hit!

Tony adds. I'm not sure I agree with Pat there, his notes comes accross as it being a super sweet hit. I think this has much more wood in it than he implies, it is a complex and spicy as well a sweet and honeyed. Sums up all that is good in Balvenie.


My first malt was a 10 yo Balvenie, and I fell completely in love with it. It made me aware how beautiful a malt whisky could taste. Since then I have tried multiple times to recapture the romance I experienced with that Balvenie 10, with very mixed results. When the Balvenie Founders Reserve 10 yo became scarce, a friend gave me a bottle of 12 yo Balvenie Doublewood, which from bottle opening until half gone bottle has just never cut it at all. (I reviewed that one.) To balance that observation, I also report that I have tasted from a different bottle, and, presumably, a different batch of Doublewood, which was much much better than my first bottle. I sampled some Balvenie Single Barrel 15 yo at a restaurant (unrecorded barrel #)of which I had high hopes, but which also fell way short, because there wasn't much to taste but citrus. I like the Balvenie 12 yo Signature's flavours, but find it too dilute. My experience with the 21 yo Portwood has been generally excellent, though my bottle of it seems not to have fully opened up just yet, compared to the previous excellent samples of it I have tasted. I have a bottle of the Balvenie 14 yo Caribbean Cask, in which I was at first somewhat disappointed, but it is getting somewhat better with the bottle opened. The one sample of the 17 yo Madeira Cask I had was also less than I had hoped for, but I don't know how long the bottle had been opened, and whether it may have come together given a little time. (by comparison: I found Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban quite disappointing for months, but now, with the bottle open for more than six months, it is starting to taste much better and more coherent.) So, after a not-so-thrilling experience (and review) of Balvenie 15 yo Single Barrel, I went on a whisky cruise a few months ago and had a very delicious sample of it. This motivated me to give it another chance when it eventually went on sale locally. Of course, it has to be noted, that as with all Single Barrel products, the buyer is dependent on the taste of the master distiller/selector in the selection of the barrels, and that the barrels will differ from one another, sometimes very significantly. The reviewed bottle is newly opened. It is from Cask #6562, casked 30 sep 1994 and bottled 8 feb 2011, aged 16 yrs, 4 mos. These single barrels are aged exclusively in former bourbon or tennessee whisky barrels.

Colour: rich and dark-- love it!

Nose: there is no grape wine aging here, but it is fruity enough that you might think that there is. This nose isn't much until you add a few drops of water. Then it becomes very floral with carnations prominent, with a little peach/apricot. The water gives you a nose well worth visiting.

Palate: Rich juicy malt with bourbon overtones. The oak is noticeable and pleasant, and some rye spice seems to have come through the bourbon casks. There is both sweet and dry simultaneously and in waves. There is a bit, but only a bit, of citrus here. Overall this is very nice. The addition of water makes the palate much sweeter. It is enjoyable with the water, but it is quite a different experience from this particular whisky sampled neat.

Finish: sampled neat, the finish became sweeter and spicier than the initial delivery. I like this sampled neat sweeter and spicier evolution into the finish a lot. With water, the finish just retained for a long period the strong sweetness which the delivery possessed.

Balance: Both the balance and the complexity of Cask # 6562 are good. Sweet balances dry/sour nicely and there are enough different elements to keep you entertained. I love that this is sold at a less-diluted 47.8% ABV, so that I can incorporate, at my own discretion, the higher alcohol bite into the mix of flavours of the whisky.

This is quite an enjoyable whisky. I wish that The Balvenie, and, for that matter, all distilleries, would sell all of its whiskies at no less than this ABV of 47.8% (Actually, if I had my "druthers", no unblended whisk(e)y would be sold at less than 50% ABV. 47.8% would be a very good start, though!)

Wow! I have tried every one of the many whiskies you mentioned, but of course I have varied opinions of the same. I am a big fan of the Balvenie in general, and specifically the 15y single barrel. Wonderful to hear others experiences across the Balvenie range.


Once again, a man without to many words... Malty good. cereal.. Honey.. vanilla.. cinnamon.. roated nuts, Cuban egg custard, pumikin and a little burnt carmel. bourdon goodness. Sweat with a little kick.. like it, like it alot.. nice.. NO NEED FOR A TOUCH OF WATER. Nice Fall Season.. DRam


Nose: rich malty backbone with more wood than the 12 year olds. Wood polish , vanilla , orange peel. Palate: thick malty , honeycomb body. Oily, the wood is quite big here. Bitter nuts, oak resin. Finish : bitter sweet , malty and spicy wee liqourice. medium long.

a nice one, but from a single barrel i would expect more...


This tasting is from my currently opened 15 yo Single Barrel that was in Cask 15-9-80 # 141, Bottled 11-1-00 # 151. I still have another unopened bottle in reserve from 23-1-81, 20-6-97 and this is the 3rd bottle I have owned.

As stated by others, since these are single barrel offerings, each barrel will be unique and slightly different. Even though that is the case, there are some noticeable notes of each cask that displays of the Balvenie house characteristics.

Reviewed uncut/neat and then with a splash of filtered water.

Nose: Initially moderate spiced pear, vanilla, honeycomb and charred oak. Upon further exploration when cut with some water I discovered a layer of marzipan, apple, tangerine, wild flower, cotton candy, caramel and some star anise. Oh how I do love the nose on this!

Taste: Initially neat with peppercorns, wild honey, heather, and apple. When cut I found a nice nutty Sherry character along with a dash of earthy cigar and cedar undertones and even a brief moment of candied dark fruits (sugar plums?).

Finish: The finish is a tad short (specially when cut) but there is a lingering peppery, minerally, tannic and boozy tone. It is interesting that the alcohol of this whiskey seems to show once the flavors have pasted. Very minor charred or smoke tones but they are there.

Mouth Feel: While only medium bodied, there is an oily and rich feel that I really like about the spirit. That only got better once it was opened by the water which lessened or smoothed the tannic tea bag and alcohol driven ending.

Overall: This cask expression is more spicy and peppery than the other I have had in the past and slightly less floral and honey tones but the sameness is still nicely apparent. I would recommended this to your "peat loving islander" friends to show what a Speyside can really do.

Excellent tasting notes @bbb63 welcome to the site


Juicy delivery that leads into a barely sugar backing with sweet reinforcements. Slight oakiness with a slow spice profile.


This review is from a bar sample and unfortunately I did not get the cask number for this "single barrel" product.

Nose: caramel, light lemon, light grape-wine flavour, mild to moderate intensity

Taste: intense grapefruit, lemon, sherry, and caramel give a strong palatal greeting together. This is the most citrus I have ever experienced in my mouth from a whisky. After a few seconds sherry wine flavour becomes rather strong. Alcohol is quite noticeable here, more so than I would expect at 47.8% ABV.

Finish: the grapefruit lasts long before finishing on sweet sherry, sour citrus, and a hint of chocolate.

Balance: this is a so-so combination of flavours here that is ok, but won't draw me back anytime soon. I gather that other single barrels of Balvenie 15 have had very different flavour profiles from this one. Many connosr reviewers don't like heavy citrus in their malts-- I can see why. The citrus demands the attention without giving much pleasure.

A recent sample I had of the Balvenie 15 yo from a different single barrel than that from this review did not have any strong citrus character and was far more enjoyable to me than the sample used for this review. I also recently read a Balvenie tasting thread in which several reviewers tasted Balvenie 15 yo Single Barrel samples from 3 different barrels and found large flavour differences among the three. Apparently there is a lot of variability in the flavour profiles of these Balvenie 15 yo Single Barrel expressions. I found it interesting in that thread that all of the reviewers preferred the Balvenie 15 yo Single Barrels in general to both the Balvenie 12 yo Doublewood and the 12 yo Signature, citing stronger more robust flavours in the 15 yo.


[Reposted from my Blog: See Profile]

This whisky is exceptional for its honey-heather flavors and aromas, which arise from the heather growing in the hills above the distillery’s location in the Speyside region, over which the water that ends up in The Balvenie flows. The “Single Barrel” designation is interesting. It means that the individual characteristics which arise in a given barrel are present only in the 350 or so bottles which are filled from that cask. This means that The Balvenie you drink now could be vastly different from the bottle you buy next year, or even from the bottle you purchase across the street on the same day! The cask number, cask fill date, bottling date, and bottle number are printed on the label. This explains the vastly different tasting notes you might find from tasters of this Scotch. Rest assured whichever barrel you are drinking from, it will retain The Balvenie’s signature heather-and-honey flavors, and will likely yield up several fruits and flowers for you to identify. A single tasting event could be run simply from bottles of The Balvenie from different bottling runs! Cask #201

Color: Rich golden

Nose: Honey and peach, buttery baked goods, angel food cake, white port wine, honeysuckle and freshly-cut flowers. Butterscotch.

Palate: Rich with honey and marzipan, low-burn. Clear and unmuddied heather at the beginning, middle, and end. Like liquid candy, but not cloyingly so. Delicate and floral on the attack, growing more nutty and with darker cooked-fruit flavors… like peach pie.

Finish is short, but with a lingering ghost of lilac and yet more honey. This dram makes me want to be a bee in the next life. Adding a dash of water to the glass causes it to open up like a flower. Literally, perfumey notes of wildflowers, clover, lilac, rosemary blossom, and peach blossom rush out of the glass. With water, the floral notes persist into the taste, overshadowing some of the sweeter baked-good flavors. This is a Scotch that should be tasted both with, and without water, as its character changes dramatically. When you’re in the mood to linger over a Scotch and appreciate the wide array of possible flavors as they evolve continually in the glass and in your mouth, reach for The Balvenie 15 Single Barrel. This one is a marvel, and because of the Single-Barrel style, you can come back year after year to discover ever different tastes and scents.

Formatting added on your behalf...

Good review but could do with some line breaks ;-)


The first scent I noticed upon opening the bottle was fresh apple. After getting closer to the glass, I picked up notes of sweet barley, spice, and after a few minutes of opening up, a decent amount of honey and oak.

When it first hits the tongue, the honey is dominant, followed by sweet barley, baked apple, oak, salt, and seaweed (hardly any sherry, like it's younger brother, the DoubleWood). This whisky is rich and rather smooth. Seaweed, apple, and oak linger, leading to a very fresh finish (and slightly sour). This would be a great scotch for the Fall : )

I like this a little better than the DoubleWood.

"This whisky is rich rather than smooth." That comment was SPOT ON! I really enjoy this whisky, and refer to it as the quintessential Scotch whisky. A perfect single malt scotch, offering enough to satisfy palates across a wide range.

I hope you enjoy your bottle as much as I enjoy mine!


Cask Number: 2839 Bottle Number: 97

Nose: Heavy wood influence, pie crusts, underripe satsumas. Fairly sweet. For me, the nose is the best part.

Palate: Once again lots of wood, sugar and spice, maple. It's a bit like young brandy. If I hold the whisky in my mouth long enough, a faint bit of musty flavor appears. Very faint, but a little off-putting.

Finish: No real development, the flavor just sort of fades.

This is unfortunate. The whisky should be much better, especially given the fact that they apparently put so much effort into it. It's not bad, it's just not very interesting. It seems that the more drams of this I have, the more boring it gets.

Just finished my bottle of this today and I warmed up to it a bit. The wood was unusually too overpowering to me and water really helped tone it down. Obviously my bottle could be very different from yours, jwise, since my bottle came from a different cask.

Also, I feel that my rating was too low and too harsh. For this review I used a 10 point scale and usually I use a 100 point scale, which I've shamelessly copied from Ralfy and others like him. New rating: 80/100.

That's too bad. I really enjoy my bottle (different cask). I have the exact opposite reaction to my 15yr, as it is a VERY interesting dram.


The 15 year expression from The Balvenie is from a single bourbon cask and is bottled at a higher strength. I have found that right around 48% is about the ideal strength for me. After My experience with the quality of the 12 year double wood, I was excited to give this one a try.

Nose: About the sweetest nose I've ever smelled. Honey, raw malt extract, very faint pear and almond. Not complex.

Palate: Sweet, juicy, and tannic. Honey, and malt. I love this ones mouth feel. It's like biting into a perfectly ripe peach, but but not tasting like one.

Finish: Oatmeal, the sweetness fades. A nice Dalwhinnie-like white pepper alcohol tingle on the tongue. Then paper and straw. I found the finish rather flat minus the tingle.

After the roller coaster ride of the double wood, I was disappointed to find the expression one-sided. The label on the box describes it as "Rich and complex." I found it to only be the former. I liked the mouth feel, but that is about all it had to offer.

If you want to try something similar to this but infinitely more interesting I would recommend the The Glenlivet Nadurra.

Which cask # did your bottle come out of?


...but in a good way...

i love the mouthfeel of this dram. this is the whisky that got me hooked on single malt, single barrel. Mike at the Whisky Castle in Tomintoul helped me put it all together.

Which cask # did your bottle come from?


This is everything I like about Balvenie scotches at a really great value. It's got the usual Balvenie oak notes, though relatively less than the Double Wood 12yo (see my other review of that bottle).

It's a single-barrel scotch, so it's a tad bit more variable than some of Balvenie's younger offerings, but the key elements go something like this. The start of the sip brings a faint bit of sherry and medium-strength oak flavors. It's not a particularly sweet scotch, and the sweetness is more of a honey sort of flavor than a Macallan-type sherry note. The finish is clean. Neither is it a particularly smooth scotch, as it's bottled at cask strength -- it's a strong, peppery, fairly harsh finish.

I don't, however, really mean to phrase these as negatives. This is a fantastic scotch, and one of my favorites. If you're like me, and want to know that you're drinking a scotch when you're drinking a scotch (i.e., you aren't afraid of a relatively strong bottle), you'll appreciate the strong malt and nice balance of sweetness and oak. Highly recommended.


I'm a big beer connoisseur just getting into Scotch. Some of my beer knowledge helps me analyze this, but some of the flavors are still a little foreign to me.

I taste lemon and black pepper up front. Simple but nice. The complexity comes in the finish. Something nutty and sweet. Reminds me of marzipan. Bottle promises honey and vanilla, which are there, but not as much as I expected. Unique as far as Scotchs I've tried. Easily recommended.

This was my 3rd Scotch. A couple of years ago I was introduced to the Scotch world with Lagavulin 16. An "explosion" in my mouth up in a cozy Arlington, Va. apartment after a 12 course French Gourmet meal. Magnificent! Then a few months ago, a Glenmorangie 10 Original (on sale for $30 at Winn Dixie) Nice and smooth. At local grocery, bought the Balvenie Single cask bottled in 1990: $62. On first tasting, it was delightfully spicy and left an interesting slightly oaky (in a good way) finish. I finished the bottle in a month! Still ambivalent about buying the next bottle...I know they vary cask to cask) Just bought a Balvenie Doublewood 12 and haven't opened it yet. Eager to see the difference.

@Silas, wow what an introduction to scotch (Laga 16)! After that, many folks would run the other way, leaving you in a cloud of dust (or, should I say, smoke). Unlike you, they would never try scotch again :-)


On the nose, aromas of sweet vanilla, honey, and ripe fruits come out alongside the rawness of the malt. The aromas foreshadow this to be a great whisky, and I'm glad to say it doesn't disappoint!

The first taste that hits the tongue is the peppery goodness. It tingles the mouth, and fills the cheeks with flavor. This is not a whisky that has been blended into obscurity, or mixed into mediocrity. This whisky is poured from a Single Barrel, yielding 350 bottles of uniqueness. The 15yr Single Barrel offering from The Balvenie is a superb example of what a whisky can be.

The finish is pretty long, with just a bit of citrus on the end (which I could do without). The pepper comes back (did it really ever leave?)

The body is a solid medium, really filling the mouth.

This is a whisky that every scotch-lover could get behind. Whatever your particular tastes, this whisky can bring something that sets it apart, and pleases the palate. Whether your whisky cabinet is small or large, this bottling can bring a uniqueness that would be welcome to all!

I am enjoying this whisky again tonight! It is getting dangerously close to the bottom of the bottle, but alas, I need to thin the herd. This one is on the chopping block, with no plans to re-stock until a few more bottles are taken down.

This bottle has been open for a year now, so it seems right that it is time for it to go. Whisky can't last forever...

As I sit here sipping this fine dram, I nod in agreement to the words I used to describe it nearly a year ago. That finish! Amazingly long and complex, with pepper and fruit (citrus and otherwise) coming out. Really fantastic....

The last of the bottle is in the glass.

Popular Balvenie whiskies