Saturday, January 8, 2011

Whisky review: Balvenie 17 Peated Cask

The Balvenie Distillery is located in Dufftown in the heart of Speyside, Scotland, right next door to Glenfiddich - both distilleries are owned by William Grant & Sons and both go into the company's Grant's blend. Balvenie's distinguishing characteristic is that it has its own on-site cooperage (where casks are made and conditioned), coppersmith (for maintaining the stills), and floor maltings (for malting barley). Of course, having all these things doesn't mean your whisky is any better than anyone else's, but it's good for marketing.

It's also good for a distillery tour, if you ever get the chance to go. I highly recommend it. If you're also a fan of Balvenie, you can join their "Warehouse 24" group and get your own tasting book plus some other perks.

The whisky in the Balvenie 17 Peated Cask has been partly matured in new American oak casks and partly matured in casks that previously held an experimental Balvenie peated whisky. I'm interested in knowing if they'll ever release the actual peated whisky that was held in those casks. My guess is that they will, knowing how many mouths are calling for more peated whisky nowadays.

Balvenie 17 Peated Cask, 43% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Speyside)

Appearance: Light orange-yellow.

Nose: That typical Balvenie honeyed nose with a hint of earthiness.

Palate: Earth and bitter dark chocolate enveloping honey, vanilla, light fruit, and spices.

Finish: More peat and some wood with a nearly-cloying sweetness. A funky taste lingers.

Overall (of 100): 82. I don't feel like the two contrasting flavors - peat and honey - really go together too well. I've tried very hard to love this whisky because I really like Balvenie in general and this particular whisky is very unique and not cheap...but it just ain't happenin'.


  1. I had the same experience with the BenRiach 'Curiositas' Peated Malt - I try very hard to like it, but I can't shake the feeling that someone has taken my lovely Speysider and tipped a full ashtray into it. I feel the Islay malts are supremely good at blending their peat notes with the other prevalent maritime and cereal flavors, but somehow when Speysiders try it, it just ends up feeling sloppy and out of touch. Thanks for the heads-up on the Peated Cask, I'll make sure to try a dram now and not buy a full bottle. :)

  2. Noob, thanks for the comment. I tried the BenRiach Authenticus Peated Malt a few months ago and liked it, but will also be careful with the Curiositas when I run across it.