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Nose: Green apples, coffee cake, sea salt caramel, Madagascar vanilla beans, scent of a good empty port bottle.
Pallette: Fairly good, not great inititally. Delayed effect, and then a rush of flavors: Eucalyptus from a tree on a hot summer day; honeycomb; royal jelly; persimmon (large fermented variety); typical hint of Balvenie cherry pits; a little bitter wood; subdued port. There is some heat without water even at only 43%.
Finish: Long and lush: Toffee; Stumptown house blend cappuccino; bitter wood; watercress; port wood. This finish is quite long for a Speyside.
Comments: Not worth $209 (Oregon price). A fine celebratory dram for special occasions if it can be had at around $150 or less. I am not generally partial to Balvenie and do not care for any of the 12 year expressions from this distillery, so I am a bit biased.
This dram is affected more than most by what you eat before you taste it. If you have desert first, the sugar in your mouth will make the dram taste delicious at first and then bitter about five minutes later. I'm not really sure why that is.
In some ways, the batch in my bottle came tasted almost too old for what it coulc tolerate in the portwood casks. The nose is exceptional, the palette is good, and the finish is long, but the finish can become somewhat bitter as it lingers on. Again, I did not mix my dram with water, because I did not feel like doing so because of the relatively old age and the relatively low ABV of this bottle.
Also, I should say that my dram was the first dram from the bottle and so the bitterness will most likely subside with time and a little air in the bottle, and also if my glass were allowed to sit for longer than 30 minutes, which is how long I allowed before tasting the dram to review here.