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Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 1

Average score from 2 reviews and 2 ratings 88

Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 1

Product details

  • Brand: Balvenie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 47.1%

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Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 1

The Balvenie Tun 1401 releases are legendary but by now almost nowhere to be found or simply unaffordable. I feel quite lucky to have tried two batches (2 and 8). Now Balvenie returns with a new series named Tun 1509. This vat is four times as big as tun 1401. The first batch consists of no less than 42 casks: 35 bourbon casks and 7 sherry casks (so a lot less sherry than in the Tun 1401 releases). I wonder if David Wishart has done his magic again.

Ah, look, the nose is immediately paradise. Wonderfully creamy with loads of waxy notes, upholstered with sweet honey, overripe mango, juicy apples, blood oranges and something that reminds me of wood glue – but in a good sense. A leaf of mint? Cherries and strawberries after a few moments. Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon, but also some candied ginger. This is very expressive and comes in layers. Delicious.

Good body. Oily on the palate. Very sweet on honey, oranges, mango, bitter grapefruit. But the spices soon take the reins: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and quinine. Tobacco rears it (big) head, but the bourbon casks are cleary in the majority.

The finish is long and warming. I get some green apples, rhubarb and spices.

Wonderfully complex whisky. This may be a NAS release, but it is top class. Having said that: the whisky is younger, there are more bourbon casks in the mix and a lot more bottles available and yet it is a lot more expensive (around 300 EUR) than the Tun 1401 releases. Ah, economics.


Balvenie is my go to expression when I'm not sure what I want to be drinking. I'll normally pour myself one as I sit down and ponder. I find that their dependable and comfortingly familiar flavors help me get in the mood for a drink.

The Balvenie 17 Sherry Oak and the 21 Portwood were one of my first ever single malt purchases and what excellent purchases they turned out to be. A solid core range with classic Speyside flavors Balvenie doesn't give itself a chance to go wrong very often.

The Tun series is quite a nice little concept where David Stewart (Master Blender of Balvenie) picks out a bunch of Sherry butts and Bourbon barrels and marries them in a much larger vessel (the Tun) for a few months before bottling them.

The first in this line was the Tun 1401 which was the name of the 2000 litre vessel in which Mr Stewarts selection was left to marry. So insanely popular was this series that Balvenie was compelled to knock out no less than nine different batches. Each one causing a minor uproar every time it appeared on auction sites.

The next was the Tun 1509 which is an 8000 litre vessel. For Batch 1 Mr Stewart went with a total of 42 different spirits; 35 from ex-bourbon barrels and seven from large European sherry butts. Each cask number written on the label - much to my appreciation. The whisky was left to swim around and get accustomed to each other for a few months before seeing the light of day.

The much larger output may have successfully killed the second-hand / auction market for the Tun series and for that I'm quite glad because the 1401 had reached prices of stupidly epic proportions. But that may not be the only reason for it's relative lack of demand. For while the 1401 batches were by and large quite tasty this particular expression is not so much.

My sample is from a brand new bottle with a strength of 47.1%

Nose: Intense sherry. Warming. Clove. Endearing honey. Peanut butter. Jam. Bread pudding. Soaked in rum. Stewed apples. Vanilla. Creme brûlée. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Roasted almonds. Dried figs. Raisins. Hint of coal smoke. When I first nosed this I literally swooned. Such a beautifully harmonious balance of aromas. This is what whisky should smell like. (24/25)

Palate: Such a creamy mouthfeel when it starts off. But then an unwanted bitterness creeps in. And layers all the flavors. Coffee. Cinnamon. All spice. Oak. Quite savory unlike the nose. Blood oranges. Unsweetened plums. Maybe the nose set it up way too high and the palate just could not compete. What ever the case I felt a little let down at the lack of complexity here. (21/25)

Finish: Medium. Savory. Oak. Cinnamon. Oily. Not the best. (21/15)

I wish this whisky was sweeter. The nose promises a different ride to the one you actually get. Which is a little sad. It's not terrible, mind you, but I was so looking forward to this blowing me out of the water. And at around 250GBP per bottle it had better.

@MaltActivist, that is great that you have reviewed Tun 1509. Thanks for a very comprensive and excellent review. I kept noticing that most of the bottles of 1509 for sale here just stayed on the shelves for 6 months plus. $ 300+ is a steep toll, of course, but STILL, based on Tun 1401 one would have expected them to sell much more quickly.

I have to say, after reading this, and my experiences with Ardbeg Perpetuum, that I do very much wonder whether even these rare premium products are "blended by the nose alone" without their being tasted. I am not one of those people who allow a great nose to somehow convince me that the palate is much better-tasting than it actually is.

And...I am kinda hoping that my one unopened bottle of Tun 1409 retains some of that "stupidly epic" auction pricing. I'd love to continue to have the option to trade it for 4 or 5 great bottles.

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