[This whisky was created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of David Stewart’s creating the groundbreaking Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old. The idea of doing a first, longer maturation in ex-Bourbon casks and a second maturation in European oak sherry casks has been a long-term success for the Balvenie, and one that has become a mainstay of the industry. This review pays homage to that concept with our first DoubleReview™.]
The “Initial Maturation” Review:
The Balvenie DoubleWood 25 Year Old nose opens with a charcuterie board of cured meats, including jamón ibérico, salted by merry librarians, and soaked in a balsamic vinaigrette that contained also the essence of the peaceful dreams of a breast-fed neonate. We also got white peaches (Prunus persica) smoked over walnut wood, then put on an escarole salad. I got, furthermore, a Raisin-Tangerine double-star imploding dual supernova sending out gravity waves, coconut cream pie, and eyebrows on a department store Santa, circa 1958. You got that, too, right guys? Guys? Stephen found also Blood Oranges at peace with Crip Oranges, both agreeing that the peaches on stilts running around with a bowl of banana sorbet were not to be tolerated.
The mouth ran surprisingly hot, but gossamer on the surfaces of the soft palate. It’s a brilliantly blended, fully self-actualized dram; the many years of cask therapy paid off as much as David Stewart and Carl Jung could have ever hoped. It’s like drinking rainbows with the requisite gustatory pot of gold at the end of my gullet, and each color of the spectrum is a different berry: Olallieberries, Whortleberries, Bilberries, Thimbleberries, Lingonberries, and Huckleberries. We also got caramel Easter bunnies hopping circles around real rabbits: the fever dream of an ecstatic child convinced also that the tooth fairy visited the night before, left money, and implanted a full set of adult teeth, eliminating the need for braces.
The mouth makes a smooth segue, played legato, into the finish and is perfectly balanced in every respect, like James Madison’s dream of Justice. Or, perhaps, a Duncan yoyo champion walking the dog on my tongue with a lemon yoyo in one hand, and a lime yoyo in the other. It’s long and delicate, and I fear to talk lest it all shatter into a shower of scintillae shards. We got also honey made from Elderberry flowers, and yes, there were also dried dates and dried figs. I also got dried watermelon, which raised the question, once the water’s gone, what’s left? The melon? Which melon? It finished off with a March of the Penguins, if the penguins were raisins. It’s like the Balvenie 21 Year Old DoubleWood, but four years better.
[Stephen: Dude! There isn’t a 21 Year Old DoubleWood! Their 21 year old is the PortWood!]
On the scale of things wondrously lasting much longer than they were supposed to–
The Balvenie DoubleWood 25 Year Old is the Mars Opportunity rover–It was supposed to have an active mission lasting only three months, which would have been counted an enormous success, but it kept on roving and sending back data for 14.5 years! A dust storm in June of 2018 forced it into hibernation, but many NASA scientists remain hopeful that the little rapscallion will come back online again. We doubt the DoubleWood 25 Year Old will last in stores for much longer, but the happy memories will endure (along with the finish, apparently).
The “Secondary Maturation” Review:
Quiet at first and unassuming, this dram offers nearly infinite subtlety once you get to know it a little better. Much as seems to be the case with Master Blender and Malt Master David Stewart.
On the scale of awe-inspiring achievements that will inevitably get lost in the highlights of a great master’s successes–
The Balvenie DoubleWood 25 Year Old is the heather blossoms adorning the Cairngorm mountains in the late summer–It won’t make the big lists of amazing creations like the Grand Canyon (or in David Stewart’s case, the Compendium Series), the Aurora Borealis (his being awarded an MBE), Mount Everest (Tun 1401 series), or especially gorgeous sunsets (pioneering double maturation), but it’s one that yields memories untainted by hype and embroidered with deep fondness.
–Our thanks to Balvenie for the sample!