Balvenie by and large do it for me. Good solid expressions. They wave the flag of classic Speyside flavors high and proud for all to see. Dave Stewart, the Balvenie Malt Master, likes to work with different flavors to add that extra depth to his spirit.
Maturations like the 14 year old Rum Cask, the sublime 21 year old Portwood, Single Barrel 12, 15 and 25 years old and this 17 year old with the peated cask influence all cement his reputation as one of the more creative Malt Masters of the Scotch Whisky Industry.
And I'm not even going to mention the cult he's managed to create with the Tun series. I know many a whisky fan simply jonesing for the 1408, 1509 and now the 1858.
However, the one in my hand at the moment is slightly easier to come by and at decent prices. It's maturation is quite possibly one of the more interesting ones that I have come across.
In 2001 a heavily peated batch of barley was distilled and left to mature for some time. Once Stewart decided it was time to move the spirit out else where he was left with casks that had taken on quite a bit of the peated distillate flavors.
So in went some 17 year old Balvenie for a few months to take on the flavors. It was then married with another 17 year old matured in new American Oak to produce this Peated Cask expression.
My expression is from a brand new bottle and served at 48.7%
Nose: Warm sherry. Apricot. Vanilla. Hint of oak. Milk chocolate. Woody caramel. Spices. Hint of smoke. Green tobacco leaf. Jam. Lavender. Gets drier over time. More crisp. Gets greener too. More herbaceous. More savory.
Palate: Quite smooth. Tiny touch of smoke. Chocolate. Woody. Spices. Cinnamon. Black pepper. Custard. Greens. Gets slightly bitter mid-palate. Not entirely bad.
Finish: Dry. Medium-long. Mild spices. Hint of smoke.
I think this is quite a fun experiment. The resulting whisky is quite nice. Could it have been better? Sure, why not? Everything can.
@Frost yup, quite an interesting one this. No idea about ppm - absolutely no literature any where or anything on the bottle.
I'm guessing it must be quite low (in the8-10 ppm range). Remember the distillate is not from peated barley. It is only drawing flavors from a cask previously holding peated distillate.
In fact now I wonder whether technically the whisky can actually have a ppm level given that it's only drawn flavor from the cask rather than being peated during the malting process.
What do you think?
@MaltActivist, thanks for a lovely review.
When I see "...17 year old matured in new American Oak...", the first thing I think is IT MUST BE TOASTED OAK. If barley malt were matured for 17 years in CHARRED new American Oak, the way American whiskeys are made, you would would have an extremely difficult time tasting the barley for all of the oak wood flavours. Even with barley whisky, you'd wind up with something like Eagle Rare 17 yo bourbon. One tonne of oak.
Stranahan's Colorado Single Malt Whiskey has demonstrated that you are getting near the limit of acceptable new CHARRED wood oakiness with barley malt whisk(e)y somewhere around the 5 year mark. Climate differences will of course change maturation times somewhat, but you get the idea.