Yesterday, The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection rolled through town. This traveling road show features original works from some of America’s most talented craftsmen. The collection was curated by Todd Snyder, and it includes everything from bowlers hats and bicycles to handmade ping pong tables. It’s all part of The Balvenie’s desire to highlight true craftsmanship, a trait employed at The Balvenie Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, as they’re quick to point out.
The event began with some wandering around and looking at these impressive works. An interesting chair over here. A handmade guitar over there. And then it turned into a scotch tasting led by Brand Ambassador Jonathan Wingo. Jonathan took us through the paces of how The Balvenie is produced, before diving into the proper tasting and nosing methods for appreciating whisky. Then, we drank. Four different expressions. Notes on each are below.
The Balvenie 12 Year DoubleWood
This is the entry level whisky in The Balvenie lineup, but it’s no slouch. It begins its life in ex-bourbon barrels before moving to sherry casks. The result is an intensely flavorful dram that’s full of vanilla, honey, caramel and sherried fruit.
The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask
A personal favorite, the Caribbean Cask is matured in traditional oak barrels for 14 years, and then it’s finished in Caribbean rum casks. It’s packed with toffee and vanilla, plus a soft and round fruitiness.
The Balvenie 17 Year DoubleWood
The older sibling to the 12 Year DoubleWood, this 17 year old expression includes more sherry notes — dried fruits, almonds — plus creamy toffee, oaky vanilla and a bit of spice. Delicious.
The Balvenie 21 Year PortWood
This is Jonathan’s favorite expression. It’s aged for 21 years in ex-bourbon barrels before moving to port casks for four months. There’s a big raisin presence in this one, plus lots of honeyed fruits, nuts and spices. It’s lush and luxurious with an incredibly long finish.
The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection will keep on rolling, so look for it in your town in the coming months.