Braeval, formerly known as the Braes of Glenlivet until the owners of The Glenlivet decided to clean up their own brands before going after everyone else using the Glenlivet name, is one of the younger distilleries in Scotland, having been built in the mid-70s. Along with its sister distillery Allt-a-Bhainne, Braeval was built for and continues to produce almost entirely for blends. In keeping with that, the distillery is so efficient and automated that it can, in a pinch, be run by a single person.
Single malts from Braeval, even by independent bottlers, are a bit thin on the ground. This particular ex-bourbon cask was bottled by Signatory for Binny's in Chicago at 56.9% without chill filtration or coloring.
Thanks for Florin for the sample.
Signatory Braeval 12 Year 1998/2011
Nose: a solid layer of mossy Laphroaig-y peat, beef fat, rich but not overpowering oak, milk chocolate, a hint of sour milk, Nyquil/menthol, clean green malt, vanilla, salty biscuit dough, musky lime peel, grilled pineapple, pears. After adding a few drops of water, the peat is tamed and integrated into the malt as herbal/vegetation notes with some hints of green smoke, the oak becomes sweeter and more polished, and the fat becomes charred.
Taste: clean malt sweetness up front, which is slowly countered by a rising tide of mossy peat, polished oak and tannins, lemon/lime citrus, heather-y floral notes, green fruits (and skins) and melons. After dilution, the malt becomes softer and more grainy than sweet, with a big dose of vanilla in the middle, followed by much more tame peat and less fruit, but the alcohol becomes more pronounced.
Finish: mossy peat, burning heather, wood smoke, mild oak, dry rather than sweet malt, peppery
Interestingly, though the samples were all from the same bottle, I found more peat and seem to like this whisky a lot more than either MAO or Smokypeat. I think the peat helped to give it more balance to me than they found. I'm moderately inclined to pick up a bottle as it makes me think of a lighter bourbon cask Laphroaig or Longrow. It helps that the price isn't stratospheric.
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