The Balvenie recently unveiled a new expression. Dubbed “Peat Week,” this 14-year-old scotch whisky carries a 2002 vintage date, and is made from 100% peated barley.
Back in 2002, very few Speyside distilleries were using peat in their production. But that’s when The Balvenie decided to distill a batch of heavily-peated malt and lay it down to mature at the distillery in Dufftown. Since then, The Balvenie has dedicated one week each year–aptly named Peat Week–to using only peated barley in its production for the purpose of crafting a different style of whisky–one with plenty of smoke. This new whisky is the result.
The Balvenie Peat Week was matured solely in American oak casks, it wasn’t chill-filtered, and it was bottled at a hearty 48.3% ABV. Let’s take it for a spin.
On the nose, the whisky is smoky, but not overwhelmingly so–perhaps a product of their choice to use milder Highland peat. Honey and vanilla are also present, alongside soft floral notes. On the palate, things turn toward fruit, with citrus leading the charge, followed by pear. Honey and vanilla remain, and smoke is there throughout, mingling with the other flavors. It finishes with oaky spice, a touch of ginger, and more vanilla, with smoke lingering until the end.
Call something “Peat Week,” and there’s an expectation that the result will be extra-smoky. But that’s not the case here, as the Balvenie whisky remains a Speyside dram, never venturing toward the brawny smoke and iodine of Islay whiskies. Smoke is present from open to close, but it’s not overpowering. Instead, it mingles pleasantly with the oak and fruit, binding everything together into a neat little package.
CE Rating: ★★★★