This 14 year old travel retail lovely came out at the same time as the 2017 regular retail release of the Balvenie Peat Week 14 Year Old. The difference? This one was matured in 1st fill and refill American oak casks as well as in refill Sherry/European oak casks. This plays off of the Triple Cask range Balvenie has available in travel retail (the 12, 16, and 25). That said, how does it play?
Well, the nose offers the normal honeyed goodness we’ve all come to expect from Balvenie, but there are spicy, round, dark fruit bits in there as well, like a bunch of plums and dark cherries thrown into a barrel full of mead from Hill Farmstead so rowdy kids can bob for them and give their parents some relief. (I don’t even know if Hill Farmstead ever has made mead, but if they did, it would’ve been phenomenal.)
On the mouth, it becomes clear that the peat is Speyside peat: spicy, mild, and sophisticated (I imagine Balvenie Distillery Ambassador David Mair tending to it every day to make it so). It’s a very mild peat, but enough to give the whole dram an added dose of richness. But that richness, like the dram itself, is perfectly integrated. If you drank more than a glass of this, you’d be able to convince yourself that this is what all Balvenies taste like, because you can’t see around any edges to imagine how it could be different.
As the mouth goes about its spicy way down my throat, the finish is a malty blossoming on the back half of my palate. This is what whisky ought to be: a flavor experience so carefully crafted that you can’t do anything but sit back and enjoy it–not that you’d want to do anything else in this case.
On the scale of silly corporate speak–
The Balvenie 14 Peated Triple Cask is “integration synergies”–Google that term, and you’ll get over 3.7 million hits, all of them offering up blandly redundant nonsense. It’s a brilliant example of the genre and worth keeping in mind to pull out for friends at parties.
–Our thanks to the Balvenie for the sample!