...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Ten Years of Whisky Reviews + Balvenie 12 year old DoubleWood (2019)

I had already been dishing out #SingleMaltReports on Twitter for a few weeks before I posted my first whisky review here on September 8, 2011 (with admirably concise notes, I must say). The blog had been used for observations on film, music, sports, and the writing life before that; sort of a site for offline friends and Facebook "friends".

Diving for Pearls entered into the whisky blog game just as the single malt craze was blossoming. Since then I've watched age-stated and NAS whiskies rise and fall, formerly independent whisky writers do the industry's bidding as that same industry abandoned most of its loyal consumers for a newer, wealthier crowd, while producing products that appeal to my palate less and less with time.

While I do chase the occasional dusty, and resupply my cabinet with everyday sippers, I have not dished out funds for a fancy new release or new single cask since the pre-Covid era. Instead I've been joining bottle splits, which make up the majority of the reviews, or spending my money on other things. That's due to the two factors referenced above. I'm not interested in the worldwide focus on cask technology, nor do I care to pay the current prices for moderately-aged single cask scotch whiskies. Plus, my god, we whisky people have SO MANY BOTTLES already.

I've considered shutting the blog down, or at least pausing it, on a few occasions when personal matters became overwhelming, or when I went though a period of uninspiring tastings. But I never did stop. Writing this blog has led me to offline friendships, a few published reviews, some independent paid gigs, and a flood of dopamine.

I don't know how many more years this will continue. At this point the blog has returned to a tasting journal of mostly irrelevant whiskies — and the occasional Killing Whisky History video and Randy Brandy cameo — which suits me right now. To all those who are still reading, from the seasoned Boomers, to m-m-m-m-my whisky generation to the monied newbs: Thank you. Thank you for reading my words, for being my captive audience for a few minutes a few times a week. Your support means more than you will ever know.

Now to the whisky. Ten years ago today, my first review was of Balvenie 12 year old Doublewood, a regular presence in my tiny whisky cabinet back then. It's been at least six years since I've tasted Doublewood, so this will be a reintroduction between the two of us. Can we still be friends?

Distillery: Balvenie
Ownership: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: American oak casks then Spanish oak sherry casks
Bottling year: 2019
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chillfiltered: Yep
Colorant added: Yep
(from my bottle)


Pear, honey and cassia lead off the nose and stay there for a while. After 20ish minutes, the golden raisins, apple juice and kiwis appear. Hints of prunes, flowers and kirsch stay in the background.

The palate is hotter than expected, yet has a watery mouthfeel. It's more sour than tart, but thankfully it doesn't get too sweet once the brown sugar arrives. Oranges and vanilla sit in the middle, a touch of molasses in the back.

Lumber, lemons and vanilla finish off the first few sips. Later sips gain dried apricots and just a little sweetness.


Ten years ago I said Balvenie 12 year old DoubleWood "makes a great gateway Scotch." I cannot disagree with that now. But in previous decades this specific bottling's quality would have been topped by many 12 year old blends. There's not much going on in the glass(es). I'm not crazy about the oak in the finish nor the very thin texture, but the whisky never gets cloying nor too vanilla-ed. Water and ice bring out a little more raisiny fortified wine and bitterness. The second half of this bottle may find its way into highballs and cocktails because I can't summon up the interest to sip it neatly any further. I will move on.

Availability - Wide!
Pricing - $55 - $85 (what?)
Rating - 79