If asked what Balvenie’s “thing” is, I’d say it’s finishes. Granted, some of the expressions are unfinished, but very few are “straight up” bourbon or sherry cask matured. But looking at Balvenie’s core range, it secreams finishes: from the 12 year old DoubleWood (reviewed here), the 14 year old Caribbean Cask (reviewed here), today’s 17 year old DoubleWood to the 21 year old PortWood (with the standard 40% ABV reviewed here and the new 47.6% coming up in this series).
We’d be remiss not to mention the series of 17 year old limited editions, some of which were special cask maturations and others were finishes. I’ll mention the IslayCask, Sherry Oak, New Wood, Madeira Cask, Peated Cask (to be reviewed in this series) and RumCask.
The 17 year old DoubleWood is matured in American oak ex bourbon casks, then finished in European oak sherry casks, both for a longer period than the 12 year old DoubleWood. This is as classic a Balvenie as they get, so let’s get to the tasting itself:
Balvenie DoubleWood 17 (43% ABV)
Appearance: Deep amber, legs are thin and sluggish.
Nose: Balvenie warm sweetness with chocolate layered over it, orange slices, milk chocolate, malt, warm milk (not in the lactic way, if that makes sense), warm sweet wood spice and dried fruit with a note of balsamic vinegar.
Palate: Spice and honey with peppers and clove in a very smooth and full mouth feel. I expected some drying effect from the sherry, but it wasn’t there.
Linger: Beautiful long spice in the back of the throat and on the tongue, chocolate and some orange marmalade.
It’s a Balvenie. With the classic oranges and spice. This is a lovely and very solid expression, maybe the most solid and “traditional” in the lineup. This is a “stay at home” dram, not one that takes you places, but that home is warm and cozy.