Monday, January 14, 2019

Balvenie Blowout

Balvenie occupies a very particular place in the whisky world, simultaneously appealing to geek sensibilities with their regular experimental releases and craft approach to production, while rarely creating anything so challenging that it doesn't have relatively broad appeal so that the legions of Glenfiddich drinkers have somewhere to step up when they want something a bit fancier. They get a lot of cred for being one of the few major distilleries to still use their own floor maltings for part of their requirements, which also adds a picturesque flourish to their extremely popular distillery tours as well as (presumably) something to the final product.

From Balvenie Distillery
Their ambiguous position is amplified by the fact that their prices tend to sit roughly a slot higher than most of their competition, e.g. their 15 year olds tend to go for 17-18 year old prices and their 17 year olds tend to go for 20-21 year old prices. This begs the eternal question of whether they're delivering value, especially when you consider that most of their releases are bottled at 40-43% with chill filtration and possibly coloring.

Over the years I've amassed a fairly large number of Balvenie samples, from a miniature set that was sold in the early-2010s to samples of new and old releases ranging from 12 to 21 years old. While there are a few oddballs, I've mostly been able to present them in pairs that look at particular styles within their lineup. Overall my goal is to try to get a better sense of what the distillery has to offer and whether my opinions have changed at all over the last six years.

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