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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Single Malt Report: Balvenie 12 year old Doublewood

Distillery: The Balvenie
Age: 12 years old
Finish: Doublewood (matured in Bourbon oak 12yrs, finished in Sherry oak for a few months)
Region: Highlands - Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Distillery Description, from Royal Mile Whiskies:
Right next door to its sister distillery Glenfiddich, and owned by the Grant family which founded both distilleries. Balvenie was built next to the castle of the same name in 1892, on the back of the success of Glenfiddich. The distillery still uses some of its own malt from barley produced on the Grant family farms. Although Glenfiddich is still the market leader in terms of sales, Balvenie is generally regarded as the stronger of the two in terms of quality across the range, which include some stunning wood-finished whiskies produced long before it became fashionable to do so.

I've tweeted twice about Balvenie 12 year old Doublewood:

@kravitz_hubris Balvenie 12yr Doublewood @ Oak Fire - priced hi, generous pour - Speyside creamy, a nutty start, sternum heating finish. #SingleMaltReport
3 June 2011

@kravitz_hubris Balvenie 12yr DblWd - A little water brings bananas & caramel to the forefront in both nose & palate. Preferred neat. #SingleMaltReport

thekrav's notes:

Balvenie is the next door neighbor to Glenfiddich, their land actually abutting, both owned by William Grant & Sons Ltd.  Lining up their 12 year olds, Glenfiddich is more popular, but Balvenie is richer.  I first enjoyed it at Oak Fire Grill on La Cienega.  It didn't come cheaply but the pour was a nice size.  It was a surprisingly smooth drinking experience, so much so that a bottle of it wound up in my liquor cabinet.

When served neat, the sherry is very up front in the nose.  It has a almond nutty start then gets very buttercreamy.  The finish is hot and full of stamina.

When served with a little water, bananas and caramel push the sherry nose aside.  They're also in the far forefront of the palate.  The finish mellows out and almost vanishes.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the banana flavor so I prefer it neat.  It's an easy Speyside so it makes a great gateway Scotch.

Pricing - Acceptable at $45
Rating - 84 (when served neat)


  1. Comparing this to Signature, I have to say Doublewood is easier to drink (i.e. the overused descriptor smooth). However I think I prefer the Signature for having more wood and less sherry whereas the sherry in Doublewood appears to be smoothing out the imperfections. Still Doublewood makes for a great starter whisky.

    1. I agree on all counts. The Doublewood is a great starter. Of course its price has gone up, approaching the $50 level around here. To me, that's getting a bit steep for a starter.

    2. Your infobox needs a small correction. The Doublewood label states that the sherry finish is only for a few months. It's unclear how many months but I'm guessing that the finish never lasts a whole year.

      This definitely makes for a nice contrast to Glenmorangie Lasanta since Balvenie seems to have realized that too much time finishing the whisky overwhelms the spirit.

    3. I think you're right. Does the label specifically say "a few months"? Michael Jackson's book says six to twelve months. I'll take a look at a bottle weekend too to double check.

      And, yeah, I agree with you on the Doublewood versus Lasanta finishing.

    4. Looking at my bottle, the label says "a few months." Based on that wording, I took it to mean "under one year."

    5. Well, the bottle label wins. I'll update.