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Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood

Average score from 10 reviews and 12 ratings 85

Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood

Product details

  • Brand: Balvenie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Age: 17 year old

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Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood

This one has been sitting for a while, which has done it good. Whilst 43%, the nose is quite strong but calms with some 20min resting. All the classic sherry elements are there, but there is also a bit of red fruit in the background which adds an element of freshness. Some more tropical elements, over ripe mango and some spotted banana. None of the elements is dominant or overbearing, it is much more 'together' than the 12yrs old.

The attack is mellow and kind, and the initial touch on the palate is slightly efervescent. The dark toast and marmelade is coming through very strongly - sweet, but not disturbingly so and none of the sugary- syrupy feeling of the 12. Some more fruit... more banana than yellow fruit, yet with a tiny zesty feeling in the background.

The finish is quite nice, a dry roast coffee beans or bitter chocolate that balances nicely against the sweetness. As in my previous observations I'm however surprised - and a little disappointed - how short the finish is.

In conclusion, its definitely one of the better 'sherry' ones I've had - definitely more to my liking than the DW12 and the Glendronach12 (maybe not surprisingly so). Having let it sit for a while since opened has been a good move. I had it rated 85, but I might be inclined to push that North by a notch or two.

@RikS, thank you for your review.

I've tasted about 300 ml of Balvenie 17 Doublewood from three different bottles and am very impressed by it. For me this is easily a 90-92 point whisky.

@RikS great review, I really enjoy the 17, it seems to perfectly balance the richness of the sherry with the house profile. It's actually the only Balvenie that I've enjoyed, all the others I've tried (12, 12SC, 14, 15SC) exhibit this dark/burnt/juniper like note which disagrees with me.

@markjedi1

I thought the Balvenie 12 Year Old Double Wood was okay, but far from excellent. Today I will try the same whisky, but at an older age. This Double Wood matured on bourbon and sherry casks – hence the name – and was bottled at the age of 17 years. This is, by the way, my 15th Balvenie so far.

The nose is sweet on rosewater, oranges juice and plums, followed by lime, apple skins and sultanas. Quite some vanilla. Finally some green grapes and toffee. Pleasant without being grand. The nose is somewhat shy, I would say.

It is light on the palate, but fruity. Loads of plums and oranges, even quite zesty, but also a lot of wood influence. Ginger and pepper. Apricots and nuts reveal themselves midpalate, but then it suddenly also turns a touch bitter.

The finish is medium long on coconut and plums, but the wood is simply too loud and that is a pity.

It is better than the 12 Year old, especially on the nose, but not so much on the palate and finish. The wood was a bit too active if you ask me.

@markjedi1 thank you for the review.

The consistent theme I'm getting from reviews on this one is active oak & a flat taste. Pity really...

This bottle would benefit from a little added abv, if it was 46%upwards I think it would be a far better dram,

@PMessinger

Warm steady slow red fruit filled arrival develops a honey vanilla balanced slow bitter sweet sour finish.

I bought the sampler of this, 12' Doublewood and 14 Caribbean about a year ago and found the 17 much more pleasantly flavorful and just overall better than the other two. As all the reviews seem to say the opposite, I bought another sampler and had the same results. The only thing keeping me from buying a bottle is the price, $117 plus tax. I have a really hard time above $85 as I can get so many great whiskies at or below that price. As a result, I've stopped buying HP 18, Macallan 15 FO, among others. It's a shame to not be able to enjoy such wonderful whiskies, but I had to set a limit. Maybe one day I won't feel so constrained.

Thanks for your input, hope that my review was helpful for you. Setting a limit is not bad and certainly nothing to be ashamed or bummed about. Continued success on your whisky journey. (:

@tjb

The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 yr is the bigger brother to the 12 yo. The spirit is matured in ex bourbon barrels then ex sherry casks. The American oak imparts the vanilla and the closer grained European oak give more spiciness and the sherry influence as well.

The nose is (as one would expect) woody. Its fragrant with vanilla, honey and sherry.

The palate offers vanilla upfront, toffee popcorn, apples, raisins and hazelnuts.

The finish is medium long, sweet and leaves a spicy tang in the middle of the tongue. Mouthwatering with fruits and good wood.

I like it but I prefer the 14 year Caribbean Cask. It's cheaper and more flavour full. If you like wood then go for this as it is well made but the rum finish adds so much more.

Bought a sampler last year with the Doublewood 12 & 17 and Caribbean Cask. It surprised me that the 17 was so much better than the other two, as I had read many reviews that put the 17 much lower. Rechecked later with another HTHTH and still found the 17 the clear winner. I'd say this is on par with Dalmore 15, which I really enjoy in the winter (after it has plenty of air time!). Now the only problem is the price. I can't justifybuying a bottle of this when both the Dalmore and Glendronach 15s are $40 cheaper.

@tjb, I've only had one sample of 17 Doublewood, at a large Balvenie commercial tasting, but it was excellent. I would have rated it at 90-92 pts. It is expensive, though, so thus far I haven't purchased a bottle of it. That sample I've had is definitely one of my favourite Balvenies.

@vanPelt

My 6th Balvenie, approached with high hopes compared to the experience with their 12yoDW.

Nose: Leathery cinnamon oatmeal and coffee. A follow-up breath reveals some reds, of baked cherries/apples. Overbreathing brings grassy lemon pith. The 12yo version's nutmeg and anise are happily absent now; the nose is rather more similar to the 15yo Single Barrel. Especially that malty leather makes this 17yo enjoyable.

Palate: Lovely honey and vanilla entrance (maybe the honey is just slightly tart). Becoming increasingly woody, with oaky nutmeg tossed into the vanilla-honey. There is a glorious balance hit at some point... until the dry woodiness dominates into the finish. The 12yo was drier and woodier; this 17yo has brought balance with more honey-vanilla. For personal tastes I find the nutmeg overbearingly drying toward the end.

Finish: The tongue stays dry initially. Some good malt (cinnamon-oatmeal) comes exhaling through the nose. Light nutmeg still on the tongue. But green apple skins in the back of the mouth taint the experience for me. The finish is reminiscent of the 12yo.

The overall impression is vanilla/honey/nutmeg. There is much improvement over the 12yo, which I would not have considered owning on the basis its initial taste. The 17yo is a pleasure, but as noted by others, the price is not justified. The 12yo approached this level of quality after oxygenation, so I would rather buy a bottle of that and let it breath for a year. Even the 15yo might be a better purchase, and Balvenie's 21 Portwood finish remains my favorite of their range. Balvenie's best value remains their Caribbean cask. In short, the 17yo's price/quality ratio just doesn't fit in the spectrum of Balvenie's other offerings.

For similar experiences, look to Jura 21 (less vanilla/fruit, more dry/coffee), Glenfiddich 19 Age of Discovery (also unjustifiably expensive), Glenfiddich 14 Rich Oak (more vanilla but lower relative quality), Glenlivet 16 Nadurra (fruitier), and my recently reviewed Sullivan’s Cove Double Cask (less honey, more fruit). The latter 3 provide great value.

@AKGcandlefish

Color: goldenrod.

Nose: light and fresh. As with most Balvenies, apples are at the fore. Vanilla and honey follow. There's a grassy/graininess in the background. All very subtle. Perhaps a little too subtle?

Body: full.

Palate: a nice balance of sweet, sour, and spice. Like green apples and cayenne pepper. Woody too, with butter toffee. Solid.

Finish: Warm and lingering! Lots of pepper, dark chocolate, and oak. The delicious aftertaste and burn stick around for minutes. I really like this finish.

I picked this up as a reward to celebrate getting one of my articles published in a peer-reviewed journal, and I wanted to splurge on one of the bottles Total Wine keeps locked behind the glass. I knew it was a new offering, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It was quite satisfying, though maybe not $150 satisfying? If you're a big fan of the 12-year DoubleWood, you owe it to yourself to try this sometime, but I'd say it is a smidge over-valued.

Note: I'm on a teacher's salary, so this is the most expensive bottle I've ever bought, hence it is hard to evaluate the dram without considering its price-point.

Congratulations on getting published! This is next on my list. I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've ever had from Balvenie and this is one I have yet to try. Thanks for the review.

@Nemesis101

This caught my eye a few weeks ago, (in the supermarket of all places). The 12yo Double Wood has always been a reliable whisky and was one of the culprits in getting me addicted to single malt many years ago.

I first tried this new 17yo with a friend at around 2am after a night out on beers. Our general thoughts were that it was nice enough but not worth the asking price, (£70). Now trying it whilst a bit more sober.....

Nose is of orange and chocolate. Don't remember that from my first try. There's a strong hint of spices and vanilla too. This is good!

The Palate is like an orange dessert, almost soufflé like. Dark chocolate too. Dare I say liquer chocolate with Cointreau. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

Finish is very very strong on vanilla, and lasting.

And there we have it folks. The classic example of why never to try expensive single malts when a bit tipsy. Did not appreciate how good this was at first, but now trying whilst more aware it has gone right up the list to rival my favourite ever malts. Strongly recommended.

I like to review everything uninfluenced so try not to read other reviews or tasting notes beforehand.

I've now read some reviews and the official notes of this and they all claim vanilla and spice but not a word on orange/chocolate, (strongly there for me though). I'd be very curious to hear some other reviews of this now.

Good review my friend :)

Like the fact, that you try to make your thoughts/notes before reading them from others. I always try the same. Then I come back and try to find some of the mentioned stuff. But not too hard.

Btw. I thought I also did also find oranges in the 12yo Doublewood...

n

from a purchased sample

Nose: A little bit richer than the 12 with all the same basic cereal, malt, honey, and ginger notes. Pepper and more resin than wax. Vanilla frosting. Powdered sugar. Green apple juice and something sour. A touch more fruit -- only a little. Raisin/golden grape. Not the most distinct. I'm getting more notes, but they're way in the margins (of the nose). Slight step up from the 12.

Palate: Thick on entry. Honey, toffee, ginger, and malty. Then there's a lot of bitter wood. The wood isn't huge in a general sense, but it's dominant. Again, not bad, but it leaves me wondering, "... and what?"

Finish: About the same as the 12 - malty, sweet, stale ginger. Uninspired. It's a hair better than the 12, but with the probably price difference, I doubt that this is worth it and you can do better anyway.

@BlissInABarrel

I just want to say that I feel very bad for a giving a low score for this product because I'm a big Balvenie fan. I love the 12 Year Double Wood...I think the Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 6 is stunning, etc...and I respect the master distiller, David Stewart, a lot. From my understanding, he was the guy who basically invented cask finishes and has been in the whisky business for over 50 years. So hats off to him for being a badass-and-a- half and inspiring other companies to experiment with cask finishes as well. I must add that I respect Balvenie as a whole because it is still family owned, and they don't need financial backing from a corporation to sell their products. So, yes, I respect them a lot!!!

When Balvenie first launched, David indicated that the company wanted to make scotch to gear towards women. As a result, Balvenie has the tendency to be light and on the sweet side.

The first time I took a sip of this, which was last month, I thought it was flat. I thought, "Hmm...Maybe it's because I sipped the Balvenie 30 Year first...and that was very flavorful. So, it's just bad to go from something robust to a lighter drink...It's like eating a chocolate cake and then biting into a strawberry. The strawberry just tastes super sour as a result of eating the chocolate cake."

Anyway, I sipped the Balvenie 17 Year again the other day and I had the same reaction. I was reminded of my sister laughing at me and saying, "You're like Mom--just so flat chested!" and all I could think was, "Aw dammit! I can't believe a slightly chubby 12-year-old boy has bigger boobs than me!" Then, I think of this drink and I think it's actually flatter than me. I know, this is probably a very offensive review...so sorry for that...but I had high hopes for this product because it's 17 years of age and it's roughly $100.

It's like going on a blind date and seeing someone really hot in front of you and then learning that after 2 seconds that this hot person is vapid and boring...like I'd actually have a more interesting dialogue between Siri from my i-Phone than the hot guy in front of me. That's what this drink is. It has nothing to offer and it's one-sided. The aroma is subtle, and the flavour doesn't go anywhere. It's just very light and bland. If I wanted something light, I'd douse vodka with water and call it a night. I tried to add a few drops of water to see if it would change, and it just tasted worst; it was just bitter with subtle hints of tropical fruit. I couldn't revive it in any way.

So, yuh....for it's price point, I don't think it's worth it. I'd buy it if it were $20. :/ Sorrrrry for that!

Hilarious title. After reading the review, however, I'm confused. Are you referring to the flatness of your bottom or your "boobs"?

Speaking of which, anthropologists came up with a rather unorthodox theory a few decades ago that womens' breasts are actually meant to remind prospective suitors of their bottoms.

Seriously, I'm not making that factoid up. It's a theory that is still maintained by a large percentage of anthropologists to this day.

What's more: human females are the only species of primate with full breasts BEFORE nursing a first child. Every other species of ape is flat chested before becoming pregnant the first time.

So, in a way, I suppose it doesn't matter whether you were referring to buttocks or breasts. . . .

I was very disappointed in the 17 year old Doublewood. I have been a big Balvenie fan since the days of The Classic but this scotch really is too light with hardly any typical Balvenie flavor. The 12 year old Doublewood when launched to replace the Classic was just a heck of a great scotch and far better than the 17 yr old. Of all the 17 year olds produced this is the poorest of them all. I'll take the Signature and the 15 yr old Single Barrel over this one any day. Throw in the Springbank 15 yr old in there as well.

@WhiskyBee

In a couple of earlier reviews, I had some less-than-positive comments about Balvenie, and I now wish I could edit those reviews to qualify my opinions. In short, the first three Balvenie expressions I tried left me underwhelmed. The next three I tried...well, maybe they weren’t over-the-moon experiences, but they were good enough to make me raise my estimation of the distillery by several notches. This is actually a double review of two of those whiskies, the DoubleWood siblings of 12 and 17 years.

Both the 12 and the 17 are aged mostly in bourbon oak, with a brief finish in sherry casks. Upon first taste, the sherry influence in the 12 yo was not pleasant. To my palate, sherry is great when it dominates, but sometimes renders other sweet flavors bitter when its influence is slight. The characteristic Balvenie flavors of honey, malt, and vanilla could have been well-balanced supporting players had the 12 yo been given more than a token sherry finish of a few months. But I found too many incompatible flavors competing for attention, and the result was a whisky as well-balanced as Laurel & Hardy on a seesaw. Just the opinion of one man’s taste buds, based on my first couple of drams from a fresh bottle.

But with the bottle level about 1/3 down, and after a few months’ rest on the shelf – what a difference! The flavors are now more articulate, and the bitterness has given way to balance. Now it tastes like the younger sibling of the 17 yo, with the progression from one to the other being downright logical. These are both good whiskies, although I have some issues with the 17’s price tag. More on this later; let’s get to the tasting.

Nose, 12 yo: The characteristic Balvenie honey and vanilla, plus plenty of fruits, florals, cake frosting, and, oh yes, sherry. I think there’s a touch of peat, but it comes and goes. Complex enough, if rather tame in its overall effect.

Nose, 17 yo: On both nose and palate, the 17 tastes like what the 12 wants to be. What’s subdued in the 12 is brazen in the 17. Honey is now very dominant, and the fruity mishmash in the 12 has separated into distinct touches of bananas, cherries, grapes, and lemons. There’s also plenty of sherry and malt, and they work as perfect compliments to everything else.

Palate, 12 yo: Pleasant, but very light. There’s a mild mix of sherry, vanilla, malt, and fruit, but it quickly turns into watery, weak tea. The medium-length finish is interesting in that the bourbon casks suddenly overwhelm the sherry finish.

Overall, the 12 yo is a mixed bag, but it’s a smooth and easy dram with a number of pleasing touches. With no bitter or off notes (once you let the open bottle sit for a while), the worst that can be said about it is that it’s on the bland and underwhelming side. Very drinkable nonetheless. Rating for the 12 yo: 85.

Palate, 17 yo: Superior to the 12 yo in (almost) every way. The arrival is a burst of malt, vanilla, cinnamon, apples, shortbread, honey, and just the right touch of sherry. The finish is nice, with caramel and vanilla dominant, along with a touch of pepper and plenty of heat. There’s a slight touch of bitterness that emerges in the finish, but not enough to spoil anything that came before.

I usually don’t discuss a whisky’s price (mainly because price is not an issue with most of the whiskies in my cabinet), and I don’t make adjustments to my score even if I think a whisky is ridiculously overpriced. But this is one instance that I think represents the recent trend for marketing gimmickry, rather than the quality of the whisky, justifying the high cost. The 17 yo is a good $70 whisky, no more. For $120 US (its average price at most locations), I want a spectacular whisky that scores well into the 90s. This one almost makes it, but lacks that “wow” factor present in my favorite drams. Fine stuff, to be sure, but falls short of the superstar it strives to be.

If you’re a fan of the 12 yo DoubleWood, then you’ll want to try the 17 yo at some point. But you might want to wait until somebody else is buying. My favorite Balvenie remains the 14 yo Caribbean Rum Cask, which sells for about half the price of the 17 yo DoubleWood.

Thanks for the review of the 17 Doublewood. I've always been a fan of the Balvenie and when I saw it in my local liquor outlet I decided to buy it. It was higher than 120. Canada prices are much higher than the US.

Hope you like it. My opinion might be in the minority on this one. Many don't like it quite as well as I do, but you should be satisfied if you like Balvenie.

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