Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky:International Spirits Challenge Winner “whisky of choice”



By Michael Hepworth

Los Angeles,CA(Spiritsman)8/28/11/—Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky was virtually unknown in the USA sixteen years ago, but now it is ranked as high as number four in the sales in the USA. Distilled at the William Grant Distillery in Scotland, one of the few Scottish owned in the country left standing, and home of the signature Glenfiddich Line. It is a distillery that I have had the good fortune to visit on my last visit to Scotland, and the facility employs 175 people out of a small village of Dufftown in the Highlands that is home to about 2,000 inhabitants.

The company is still family owned, principal owners being the grandsons of William Grant, and they have resisted all temptation to be taken over by a corporate conglomerate. For that fact alone, the whisky is worth checking out, and any serious drinker of whisky should have some Balvenie in their drinks cabinet, and once tried could easily become their whisky of choice. Balvenie is a boutique brand of the group, and at a recent private tasting I tried four of Whiskeys ranging from the 12 year old up to the just released Madeira Cask 17 year old. Luckily, the company spokesman and historian Andrew Weir was on hand to educate those of us who are not single malt aficionados. Made only from water, yeast and barley, the whisky is aged in oak casks for three years and is still made by hand under the watchful eyes of master distiller David Stewart, a 47 year old veteran of the company.

The big surprise to me shattering my preconceived conception of whisky and food combinations was the pairing with Chinese food (even though it was of the high end variety) that was surprisingly effective. Part of the taste might come from the fact that Balvenie whisky is non-chill filtered, a common practice in mass whisky production.

Balvenie won five awards just recently at the prestigious International Spirits Challenge in London, including the coveted Single Malt Trophy for the Balvenie Portwood 21 year old. This is a creamy, silky malt that tastes of fruits and raisins, whilst the Madeira Cask 17 year old uses barrels that have been used in the production of fortified Madeira Wine.

This is a rich, deep and complex single malt with a wonderful lingering after taste of baked apple, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The labeling on the Balvenie bottles is unflashy and very informative, perfectly appropriate because of the limited production run, with each bottle will become a collectors item and going up in value accordingly. Prices for the 12 year old start at $53.35 a bottle up to $173.90 a bottle for the 21 year old Portwood.

Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211