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Balvenie 21 Year Old Port Wood Finish

Average score from 18 reviews and 70 ratings 90

Balvenie 21 Year Old Port Wood Finish

Product details

  • Brand: Balvenie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 21 year old

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Balvenie 21 Year Old Port Wood Finish

Warm rich slow thick fruit loaded arrival develops a long slow mouth coating fruit and spice balanced finish.

What did you think of the Red Breast 21yr old? I was a little disappointed....

@Misty : I enjoyed the Redbreast 21yo. But I find it to have the dryer flavor profile, quite similar to its younger (and less expensive) 15yo sibling. With two bottles of the 21yo, I am set for some time going forward. I then to lean more towards the fruitier, vanilla notes of the regular 12yo. The RB 12yo Cask strength has been one of my favorite whiskies for past several years. But, for some reason, I am just not as thrilled with it this year. Not sure if an "off" batch, or oxydizing has quickly killed off some of the more enjoyable "intensive" qualities and character. And truth be told, I have been sampling a number of new whiskies this year. Expanding my palette, so to speak.


Warm rich slow thick fruit loaded arrival develops a long slow mouth coating fruit and spice balanced finish.

I'm certain I'd like this, but just can't get myself to spend that amount on a stingy 43% bottling... you say it's thick & full - now just imagine how much better this could have been at 47,8% like the 15Y single barrel!

If Balvenie would wake up and use that 15YO strength as their standard then they'd get a lot more love from the hardcore Scotchdrinkers.

@Jules thanks for your input. Yes this one was pricey but it was very good at 43% and I am sure you have a valid point that at higher ABV would be great. The 15yr old single barrel is a great favorite of mine as well. Thanks again for your thoughts. (:


Early on in my days as a malt enthusiast (read freak) I was always on the lookout for Jim Murrays' 93+ point whiskies and this 21 year old port finished Balvenie was on top of my 'must buy' list. So imagine my utter delight when I discovered this at the Duty Free during one of my travels.

As expected I had no idea what I was drinking. Not only that, I had the audacity to write a three line review and post it for all and sundry to see. I praised it but had no inkling why I was praising it.

Today I know why.

Nose: Robust. Confident. As you would expect a 21 year old to be. A whisky, that is! The port finish comes through on the back of remarkably balanced cocoa beans and fruit cake wrapped in chewy toffee. Then there is the sweet beeswax complemented by gorgeous red apples and a teasing cinnamon spice. And grapes. Lots of grapes. Dark grapes.

Palate: Beautifully textured. I know it's medium-bodied but the palate is sending thick syrupy signals to the brain. Must be all that cocoa, thick grapes and warm apple stew covered in salty nuts.

Finish: Long and seductive. The cinnamon fruitcake is back and renders you almost incapacitated.

This is truly an example of what real magic must feel like.

Bullshit! It's only 40 %. Balvenie needs to step up their game. Yeah, its good, but it could've been GREAT. I love them, just like you, but the more I taste the more I think they're conning us with their low ABV.

@whiskyed I've heard about the higher ABV version, but Serge was less enthusiastic about that one than the 40% version.


How about that @Maltmaniacmate :)


It has been a bit of a bumpy ride with the Balvenie as far as i am concerned. Being a rather young and still inexperienced (although gaining fast) whisky enthusiast i started of with the signature in '06, liked it alot but got dissapointed by a couple of doublewood, rumwood and a madeira cask (reviewed this year).

The Madeira cask was the best alongside the Signature (which i don't rate, as although it was a good experience, i have to consider my "beginner" tastebuds).

This Portwood was a risky purchase but it was discounted heavily in the store (which seemed weird as Balvenie is still very popular) but there it was priced at a nice 99 euros (germany) so i grabbed it.

Nose: Light, sweet figues. Big grape (sweet&sour), milk chocolate and a wonderful mix of berries: Strawberries, raspberry, blueberry ice-cream? Seems like it! Creamy strawberry cheesecake with almonds. Very nice nose!

Palate: A weirdly bitter arrival that quickly shifts to an aromatic and tannic (but creamy!) sweetness. This sweetness is rushed forward by all kinds of red fruits that i had troubles to distinguish, but for those i could were strawberry (again), blueberry and guava. Creme brulée with milky vanilla cream, juicy malt and slight wood bitters.

Finish: The wood bitters carries us to the finish which entails a sweet spiciness (multuiple spices: Cinnamon f/ex) with bitter marmalade and some minted strawberry.

This was a delightfull Balvenie experience that for once didn't abruptly end in a short-lived "jaggy" finish. This malt re-instated some confidence in me regarding this distillery, although this seems to be a 2010 or pre-2010 bottling considering the strength (the latest is at 40% or 80 proof). It is still a relief and a pleasure to taste Balvenie when it is closer to it's best. A wonderfull tannic&fruity port complexity balanced by a juicy malt with a creamy overcoat that smoothes out the edges without dumbing it down to much.

From what i have tasted from Balvenie, this is the pick of the bunch, wish i could provide a more economical tip, but if you are feeling flush then this is probably my best port-wine finished malt so far.

Thank you for a very nice review. Yes, it is hard not to like Balvenie 21 yo Portwood, isn't it?

If you can get the chance, @Lifewaterforce, also try the Balvenie 1993 Portwood...it is much sweeter than is the standard 21 YO Portwood, and makes a very interesting contrast to it. I like them both quite a lot.

Thanks for the tip Victor, will keep a look out for it! The portwood with all it's singular expressions seem to have become Balvenie's flagship in terms of quality. Thank you for the feedback as well!


from a purchased sample

Nose: Ah. Far more 'there' here. See what I did there? Honey, resin, wax - the usual Balvenie thing going on, but now there's more to it: fruit! Apple, peach, nectarines, and some apricot. Still rather malty and waxy. Grape and almost has drops of Spanish brandy. Licorice, too, and sourwood honey.

Palate: Thick and more delicious. A little creamy and honeyed. Fruit nibs lathered in honey. There's a trend here. Wax (honeycomb). Rice pudding. Vanilla. Thick stuff - surprising at this point. Trace amount of wood. Just enough to keep it balanced and not overly sweet.

Finish: Same as on the palate, but more pepper, resin, and ginger here. The most balanced of this Balvenie flight, the richest, and most satisfying. I liked it, very easy to enjoy. It could use more complexity and a greater array of flavors, but it does its own thing well. On the other hand, I hardly think that it's worth the MSRP.

I agree this beauty can be found for $178 (or $128 can't remember) where I live. So I don't think Ill be randomly picking that up anytime soon. Great review though.


Nose: Initially cherry and sweet vanilla are forefront with nutmeg spice. (I first likened it to an unpeated Ardbeg Uigeadail.) Further inhaling brings orange rind, nutmeg or walnut bitterness, and salty caramel.

Palate: Enters with a sustained floral tone, much like bergamot. A little rubbery or bitter, like walnut skins, but this is just balanced enough by the sweetness of vanilla and dried figs. Towards the end and before the finish, maybe some white pepper.

Finish: Nutmeg persists for medium length, with light overtones of a smoothening sweetness evoking vanilla/pear/clove/tobacco.

I am surprised that none of the 3 Balvenies that I reviewed tonight (12DB, 15SB, 21PW) overtly displayed the honey sweetness that is advertised of the brand. Instead, they have all been more serious and rather characterized by oaky nutmeg. The Port Wood presents the most balance among these, having more complexity and smoothness in the palate. I think that too much breathing seemed to bring out more bitterness, so I would recommend enjoying this one soon after pouring. Then the lasting impression is of a smooth but complex bergamot-vanilla treat.

Thanks @rigmorole. Concurrence, always nice it is to hear. I have been drinking this precisely as you prescribe above. Before pouring, only a tiny remnant of cold rinsing water could have remained-- enough for a point or 2? Not so sure...

I agree. Best right off the bat in the glass. I recommend a Glencairn and not a big open glass for it. That will make it last a bit longer if you like to sip slow.

And don't leave it in a bottle less than one third full for longer than a three months. It could go bitter on ya.

In the immortal words of Yoda: "Oxygen a friend is not to this dram."


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.

I think the 15 is just as good. Different, but just as good in its own way. My girlfriend bought me a sampler pack and the 21 was in there. I wouldn't pay $209 for the 21 year. Even the 15 is overpriced in Oregon. My suggestion if you like sherry casks: try the Glengoyne 17 year. In my home state, it's only $65. It's a very nice scotch. Yes, it's a little "trebbley" meaning it doesn't have the deep full bodied resonance of some, but it's worth every penny of what you pay for it. If you drink with the wife or a girlfriend, it's CF (chick friendly), meaning women will drink it and maybe even like it. I suggested it to a female coworker of mine, and she went through a bottle with her husband in less than a week. I think she drank more of it than him and she didn't add water.

I've been wanting this bottle for a long time, but the price keeps me away. It's $209 in my neck of the woods as well. I'm a big Balvenie fan, the 15 year being my favorite. Thanks for the review.


Many months ago I heard about a very sexy Speyside whisky from a good whisky friend, Victor. That this whisky was a top notch beautiful, fragrant, flavorful, second to none whisky.

This whisky was Balvenie's 21 yr old Port wood finish.

The only problem was that only a few places in Australia sold it, and it was always around the $250 mark.

Just a wee bit of money to spend on a bottle without having sampled it before hand.

However I found that I would be able to bring it in myself for a little over half the price. Not a bad deal.

I decided to go with that option, along with bringing in another whisky that I'd heard nothing, but good things about.

Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX.

On my shelf these two whiskies have sat.

For almost a year.

Awaiting a special occasion worthy of cracking them open.

However no occasion occurred that seemed worthy of such whiskies.

Then recently a member on Connosr, lost their beloved partner of 10 years. They'd decided to treat themselves to a special bottle in memory of this loved one.

From the whisky community came an outpouring of support, condolences and well wishes.

Drams, many special, were raised in this person's support and their partner's memory.

I was like many and cracked open a special bottle for this occasion. Thinking of my beloved grandmother who passed away the year I moved to Australia I cracked open the Balvenie 21 yr old Port Wood.

Beautiful sexy bottle concealed in a very nice looking tube. Dark gorgeous liquid inside sexy beautiful bottle.

But that's not why we buy whisky, for the bottle, but for that beautiful nectar inside.

So I sit down to dinner thinking about new friends and old friends as I pour the Balvenie into it's glencairn.

I nose the glencairn over the course of dinner, not taking any sips or anything, just enjoying the intoxicating aromas off this whisky.

You can easily tell the wine influence on this whisky, the port, strong aromas of spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, sultanas, raisins, hints of vanilla. Very beautiful.

When I finally take a sip the flavors follow quite closely the nose with the addition of cocoa on the palate. Once more the wine influence is easily seen.

Even though this whisky sits at 40%abv it has a very nice mouth feel to it, one that coats the mouth. At times it does feel thin, but it's not to the point where it bugs me, it's more like I would have loved to have seen this whisky coming in at 46% or thereabouts.

Finish is sweet with the wine once again making itself known, but with the cocoa and vanilla doing a little interplay with one another.

A very lovely whisky, one easily worth the $250 or so AUS that it runs at. It's not the world's most complex whisky, but it's what I call one of those "feel good whiskies"

If you get a chance to try this lovely little gem, do so. You won't regret it!

Iv heard many positive things about this bottle but just cant wrap my head around the pricetag here in aus. For $220 from dan murphys you can purchase this 21 year old regular to the balvenie lineup @ 40%ABV. For just $30 extra is (was) the balvenie tun 1401 with minimum age 21 (but average age around 38) @51%ABV. Does anyone else find this strange? Or is the portwood edition just that good?

The Portwood is brilliant. I havent had a chance to try the 1401 though. Mind you I find quite a few Dan Murphy prices puzzling, but I suppose that's what happens when you import your whiskies yourself. However the price on the Portwood is in the ballpark of other places I've seen it in Australia. Not sure why the 1401 is quite so cheap though.


Balvenie 21 Port Finished - 43% ABV

This is my Whiskey review.

Nose: Volatile, boozy, aged tawny port, apricots, cherries, honeysuckle

Body: Great legs but surprisingly delicate... like a ballerina? Not as syrupy as expected. Drying

Color: Killer Bee Honey

Taste: Sweet and fruity. Mangoes and Peppers. Unidentified floral notes. Deep and Complex. It begs further investigation.

Finish: Oaked spicy pepper, clove, biting & lingering alcohol sensations. It is like a great night that doesn't want to end too soon.


This is very, very good. Very complex it rewards, ahem, repeat visits and although it's outside the price range I love to drink in, I know i'll have another one of these before too long. Moreishness born of sheer quality.

Nose: A bakery. Fig rolls and mince pies, raisins. Cut apples. The port puts me in mind of sherry, then almost brandy. In spite of all this it remains subtle and seductive rather than overwhelming or challenging. The warmth in the experience begins here also. Enchanting.

Mouth: So smooth, uncut apples now with hints of marzipan. See the progression from the nose? Such wonderful cohesion. Some spice. A hint of wood and a very slightly soured/burnt note that maybe drags this whisky down to great, from the heights of near-perfetion. Almonds, nuttiness a little more insistent as the finish approaches.

After: Complex and delicate. Almost underwhelming but rewards concentration. Warm, exquisitely polite, nuts lengthen until the very last moment. The burnt note returns but has a more pleasant introduction. Seems to fall off quickly but actually lingers just out of sight, a ghost of a finish complimenting perfectly the old-school butler of a whisky.

In case i haven't been clear enough, I love it. I think perhaps this is a little under-rated in the wider world and I love that Whisky Connosr rates it so highly. Perhaps my favourite "delicate" whisky.


First review, very much a beginner to whisky. I had read and heard quite a few good things about this one before I bought it duty free 2 weeks ago.

So I actually had fairly high expectations!

Nose: First thing I got was honey, sweet honey.. then caramel and fruit.

Taste: Smooth, more honey, more caramel, maybe some hints of spices.

Finish: Slight warmth spreading through the mouth, the taste impressions stays there for longer than I expected.

All in all I was not disapointed. I have mostly had experience from Islay so far in my short whisky carrier, but I think this one is very high ranked overall and definatly a top contender of the none Islay malts I tasted in the past.


The reviewed bottle has been open for approximately 14 months. The flavours have changed only slightly to early-moderately over that period, and the changes have been to the good

Nose: very nice Port wine nose, moderate in intensity with a clean quality to the flavours, accompanied by a very nice sweet/dry balance, leaning ultimately toward the dry

Taste: this one just takes over the taste buds with a very consistent strong and enjoyable set of port wine flavours. For awhile I didn't enjoy this bottle of Balvenie 21 yo Port Wood Finish quite as much as I had enjoyed the samples of this whisky I had tried prior to buying this bottle. Happily, this now somewhat oxidised bottle tastes to me more like what I had tried in other venues and loved

Finish: just stays there with its good and strong flavours for a very long time. This is a rather dry and slightly bitter style of finish. Lovely

Balance: what's to say? This is a nice wine-finish whisky, and a highlight of the Balvenie inventory. Balance is quite good, and gets better with bottle oxidation. This is an expensive bottle, but there aren't many whiskies this good


The name leaves nothing to the imagination: this grown-up Balvenie is finished in port casks, in this case 30 year old port pipes.

On the nose, I am overwhelmed with sweetness: caramel, toffee, oranges, vanilla and honey, but the port wine gives it a nice round twist. It is waxy on beeswax. It even has a nice bitter lining, like walnuts, from the oak. Hand warmth makes it a tad exotic. Dried pineapple, baked banana and mango.

The body is, admittedly, rather light. I had expected this to be creamier. Very fruity, though. Immediately the dried fruit emerges, heavy on spice, with a truckload of honey. Very drying too. Midpalate, it even becomes somewhat oaky, but luckily not over the top. The spices: cinnamon and white pepper.

The finish is the best part of this whisky. Long and warm on pears and pepper.

A nice Balvenie, however a bit lacking in punch and a bit too heavy on tannins. I believe the influence of the port was rather limited, which is a good thing. If this were bottled at 46%, it might even become a spectacular whisky.

@markjedi1. My bottle is at 47.6% and judging by what I am experiencing compared to your review, it sounds like it definitely benefits from the extra ABV. I got this bottle at an airport duty free, so maybe they are doing different bottlings for different markets. Based on the bottle I have I would put it closer to 90pts.

There are indeed different batches.


One of my faves -- a splash of water makes it taste divine! The Port pipes play their part to a T. Floral and sweet but nothing overpowers. The sweetness of chocolate, caramel and vanilla come though strong and the texture is creamy with a hint of oaky almonds at the finish.


Typical aroma expected with a wine-finished whisky. Signs of old oak aging with a fruitiness similar to that of old bourbon casks. Nicely subtle entry of the malt with the fading of the fruitiness.


Nose: Sweet nectar, honey, and warm goodness. Absolute delight. Soft candy, toffee, and a slight port (that's not surprising, huh?) aroma. I could nose this whisky all night long, except that its taste is even better! Coming back after a taste, I pick up gardenia, and other aromatic floral notes.

Body: Soft body, almost delicate. Light and buttery.

Palate: OH MY GOODNESS! This whisky is buttery smooth and sweet as honey! The floral notes are subtle, but the port comes out strong. Being a port lover, this is a VERY good thing. A slight alcohol burn lights up the sides of the mouth, reminding me it is not a butterscotch liqueur, but straight whisky I am sipping. The finish is remarkable, delivering a soft, sweet aroma. I could literally drink this whisky all night long. There are spicy notes that develop as well, perhaps cinnamon?

The sensation on my tongue is wonderful, building in strength, numbing the sides of my mouth. I can't help but hold this warm, delicate dram in my mouth. The glass is almost empty, and I am growing sad, realizing this is the end of my tasting for the day.


This is the oldest whisky I have yet to try so that alone excited me. Add to that that this is my first port finished scotch, and lest just say I couldn't wait to give this one a go.

Nose: An extraordinary nose. red grape, wheat germ, honey,tropical fruits, dusty old leather bound books, a waft of a long extinguished wood fire. The nose alone could be worth the price of admission.

Palate: An exquisite mouth feel. The flavors are delicate but they just soak into the palate as if they could stay forever. Raisin, prune, red grape, honey, lavender oil. Refined and balanced.

Finish: Leather, cocoa, and vanilla. It isn't bitter but there is the impression of bitterness, if that makes sense. The finish just slowly fades back into the mist.

All that is in my head are these three words: seductive, intoxicating, and perfection. I can't help but have the impression of sitting in old leather chairs with my closest friends in a wood paneled study full of old books and the smoldering coals of a dying fire. There is nothing I would change about this dram.

I wondered if this one could truly be worth the price of admission, it goes for about $140 around here, but I can whole-heartedly say that this is a must-try dram. It is easily one of the best that I have had the pleasure to sample.

Good review. The 21yr is my PERFECT whisky. It is the end-all, be-all of whisky. I recently acquired a bottle, and have shared it in the company of my closest friends and family. I'm not too sure how long the bottle will last at this rate, but it is worth sharing.

Amen to the both of you. If I was to give a gift to a special person - this would be it. I would definitely buy from the UK though... :-)


Nose: A rather enticing mix of beehive aromas, rich beeswax and slightly floral honey dominate the nose alongside hints of juicy grape and light sultana. Some noticeably woody tones coming through with cedar and oak. Faint tropical fruit adds depth.

Feel: A little watery, lacks body and richness. The low strength really shows up here I’m afraid.

Taste: Swathes of sweet honey and the ever present beeswax. The oak comes in rather quickly but doesn’t overpower the sweetness. A little light fruit and maybe a touch of waxy orange push their way through as the tannins build.

Finish: Mellow and slightly floral. Satisfying but cutting up slightly on the oak. Medium length.

A very enjoyable Balvenie without doubt, even if it is a little oak heavy (see footnote). I would love to taste this at a higher strength and see the mouth feel and finish inline with the richness of the nose.

Footnote: Once opened this bottle seemed to change quite noticeably over time. Where once the tropical fruit was higher in the mix it later dropped back and become rather subtle. The oak seemed to become more dominant also.

This is one I haven't tried but i hear a lot of good things about. I will pick a bottle up if I ever see it on offer.

Seems quite reasonably priced for a 21 year old whisky.

@Stu R I read somewhere that the duty free retail version of this comes in at 47.5%. Hope that you can try it at that strength.

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