By Kurt Maitland
This Balvenie expression is matured for at least 15 years in a European oak sherry butt, and not to be confused with The Balvenie’s standard Single Barrel 15 Year Old, which are aged in ex-bourbon barrels rather than former sherry butts. The former release is something I will tackle another day.
No more than 650 of these hand-numbered bottles are drawn from each sherry butt, and as these are single barrel releases, each barrel brings its own personality to the table. The bottle in my possession, 47.8% abv, is from cask number 16,268, and the is bottle number 432.
Color: Burnt umbra.
Nose: Stewed raisins, a hint of cherries, almonds.
Taste: Full of fruit but with a slight nutty element, it has a hint of cooking spice in the middle but this spice continues to blossoms into white pepper. I thought it would turn dry quickly due to the 15 years in a sherry cask but no. It holds off on the astringency until after the pepper explosion. The mouthfeel is rich and silky, slowly turning dry with a long, spicy finish. Add a little water, and it becomes a bit sweeter and little slicker at first, then a diminished peppery finish comes on quicker but lasts almost as long.
Finish: As mentioned above, this expression has a long finish, going from fruity sweetness to peppery spicy before you finally get the sherry dryness that one expects from 15 yrs in a Sherry Cask.
What can I say, I’m a sucker for a single barrel. For me, they are releases to be treasured whenever possible. They are essentially snowflakes that you may never taste again.
This release runs around $100, but prices fluctuate. If you can get any of these at that price, I recommend you do so. Snowflakes have a limited shelf life, as do single barrels. In the UK, expect to pay £72.