...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Single Malt Report: Braeval 17 year old 1989 Cadenhead

With the first three days of The Cleanse complete, I am now a perfect being.  Everything I say is terribly interesting, my feet glide across the dancefloor like Gene Kelly's, and my s**t don't stink.  Oh what is this, a whisky review?  Ah, whisky my old crutch.  It's a good thing I wrote these notes before The Cleanse because I am through with you.  I can’t remember your face anymore, your mouth has changed, your eyes don’t look into mine--

Oh f**k, who am I kidding? Whisky dear, please be there to meet me when I return.  In the days between I will think on you fondly.  I’ll see you in the sky above, in the tall grass, in the ones I love--

Okay maybe I'm somewhere in the middle.  The one thing that stinks (other than, well never mind) is that the nights have cooled down and whisky weather is beginning to show......and I'm stuck enjoying it with a red quinoa salad and a glass of club soda.  I'm sure the temperatures will jump to 90 degrees once The Cleanse has ended.

Today's review is of a Braeval single malt.  Braeval, also known as Braes or Braes of Glenlivet, is another distillery that's a little foreign to me.  It's a youngin', built in 1973 by the Chivas folks who still use almost all of the malt for their blends.  In fact, I don't think they've ever released an official single malt bottling.  Thus the only way to try the Braes is via the few independent bottlers who are crafty enough to get a cask.  Cadenhead has released several and here is one of the more recent ones.

Distillery: Braeval
Bottler: Cadenhead (Authentic Collection)
Age: 17 years (1989 - February 2007)
Maturation: Sauternes Hogshead
Bottle: ??? of 276
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Alcohol by Volume: 55.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
Thank you to Cobo for the sample!!!

It has a filtered apple juice coloring.  The nose introduces the whisky as a potential sweetie: sugary cream, overripe tropical fruit, and overripe bananas.  Also lots of charred oak and BIG vanilla.  Smaller notes of citronella candles, lemon curd, and dried apricots.  Very sweet citrus strikes first in the palate, followed by a blast of ethyl heat.  Then buttery caramel, mint candy, white peppercorns, and tobacco appear next, with an undercurrent of Campari-like bitterness.  More bitterness in the finish.  The peppercorns, mint, and tobacco carry through.  Then barrel char and smoked lemon peels.  Maybe some prunes too.

On the nose there's vanilla.  And more vanilla.  Cream, caramel, and lots of sugar.  The fruits recede way into the background.  Maybe something floral remains.  Meanwhile the palate keeps the bitter note.  Some tart lemons and limes show up.  Though there's lots of sugar here too.  It finishes very candied.  There might be a raisin or two.  It's also slightly floral, vaguely citrusy, and a little bitter.

This whisky is almost entirely oak and wine, especially in the nose.  The refreshing bitterness in the palate occasionally salvages it for me, as do the tarter and peppery notes.  But most of the time it feels like a high abv liqueur which has only a passing resemblance to whisky.

There are some people who would love this stuff.  Folks who love Glenmorangie Nectar D'or and/or Jim McEwan's Sauternes finishing flights of fancy might be over the moon with this one.  But I can't be counted amongst that demographic.  Where is the whisky in this whisky?

Other opinions:
--Whiskybase members like this Braeval much better than I, judging by the ratings.
--One of the Malt Maniacs gave it a score of 50.
--Serge at whiskyfun finds more spirit to it than I did, but he also notes the gobs of oaky vanilla, butter, and caramel.

Availability - possibly all gone
Pricing - may have been around 65EUR
Rating - 75


  1. I think Braeval is another reopened distillery. Chivas mothballed the place at some point and reopened in 2008 when the whisky world started heating up.

    1. Yeah they closed it in 2002. Can't really put the new stuff in Chivas 12 yet, so maybe it's going into Ballantine's.

  2. Good thing that both of you are doing the cleanse at the same time! I had to stop my whisky fast last night after 9 days, since my wife could not stand me anymore: sleepy and useless by 10pm, constantly grumpy and ashen-faced, and generally a kill-joy. Not the warm, funny, sensitive, and amazingly good-looking guy she knew and loved. Mind you, this is one woman's opinion, I was completely fine with myself! She's been suffering from my alcohol withdrawal, and I had to do something about it. I admit though that even I could sense the complete transformation that one glass of Benriach Heredotus Fumosus did to me - remember the final scene from Beauty and the Beast? So, yeah, keep that in mind toward the end of the week when you two are ready to kill each other. Above all, protect the baby!

    Oh, and you drank a Braeval - cool.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM3j3S465oo

    2. Light beams shot from your toes and you floated through the air to an Alan Menken score? I'd say Heredotus Fumosus gets 89 points for that. When my charm(?) has been spent by day four, I'll let Kristen know the secret as to how I can get it back. Nine days ain't bad, especially considering fatherhood. We need to take these booze breaks every once in a while for many reasons. I'm ready for mine to be over with.

  3. Besides the good stuff you also asked for the malts i can't stand - that was one of them :P
    For me this is pure unmatured oaky spirit (weird for a 17yo malt) forced into a fancy cask. I refused to write notes and only gave it a - - - score (i'm not into numbers except for WB) in my little brown notebook (yes, the analog one) which doesn't happen that often. But you can't apprechiate the good stuff if you don't proof yourself from time to time how stale whisky could taste ;)

    Be sure... there are better ones to come...

    1. No doubt there are better ones in the parcel(s) you've sent!!! And I'm still okay with trying stinkers! :)

      This Braeval did seem to appeal to a number of whiskybase members, folks who clearly have different palates than ours. Some people are pleased by oak and wine, as that approach kept Murray McDavid running for years.