For many years, the 15 year old Single Barrel was the only widely available and affordable Balvenie edition available to bourbon cask matured whisky fans from the distillery. There is a single barrel 25 year old to be had, but obviously at £500, it’s not really in the “affordable whisky” range (I’ll be posting notes on the 25 Year old cask 6999, which was bottled in 2015, but have also had a 25 year old single barrel that was distilled in 1974 and bottled in 1999).
The rest of the range, from the fondly remembered 10 year old Founder’s Reserve, through the Signature to the current entry level DoubleWood 12 year old, the 14 Caribbean Cask, 17 DoubleWood and the 21 PortWood as well as the 30 and 40 year olds, have more than one type of cask in them. In fact, since the 1980s, David Stewart has been mixing casks, experimenting with finishes and full maturations in any and all types of barrels and generally doing almost anything conceivable to whisky. A succession of these experiments came out as 17 year old limited editions: IslayCask, Madeira Cask, New Oak, New Wood, RumCask, SherryOak and the PeatedCask. With the most recent change being the discontinuation of the 15 year old ex bourbon single barrel, it’s replacement with a 15 year old ex sherry single barrel, and the introduction of a 12 year old bourbon matured single barrel.
The 12 Year Old Single Barrel replaces the 15, and while it’s overall very good, I’ll personally miss the 15 year old bourbon casks.
Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel – Cask 1799 (47.8% ABV)
Appearance: Straw, thin legs off a rather persistent necklace.
Nose: Honey is very prominent, very fresh nose with notes of vanilla and lemon and confectionery notes. Some time in the glass brings out hints of coconut shavings with honey.
Palate: Lemon, honey, hard candy and overall fresh and citrusy, with a hint of cereal. The whisky is very clean and straightforward.
Linger: Not as long as I’d hoped, sweet, with not much else there.
Nice and very clean, and at around £45, this is a good basic daily dram. The ABV is high enough to be really enjoyable, and it’s only shortcoming, really, is the finish. If you save the last 100-200 ml of every bottle, you’ll soon have a few to compare to each other, which might be interesting….