Balvenie Port Wood
The Balvenie Port Wood Wood is aged in two different wooden casks – first in American ex-bourbon oak casks, later in Spanish first fill sherry casks.
In 1892 enterprising Speyside landowner William Grant decided to repeat the success of the distillery he had built by the Fiddich Burn, near Dufftown, four years earlier and converted the nearby abandoned New Balvenie Castle to house his next distillery.
Designed by Robert Adam a century earlier for the Earl of Fife, New Balvenie Castle had fallen from use and was acquired by Grant, who had the castle refurbished to house copper stills that had previously been used in the Glen Albyn and Lagavulin distilleries.
As with Glenfiddich, the distillery at Balvenie is fed by the local Ronnie Dubh spring and uses barley grown in the local area but the character of the neighbouring malts is very different.
Balvenie is the last Highland distillery to use a traditional malting floor and the Balvenie Malt Master selected the best 21 Year Old Balvenie, already matured in traditional oak casks, to be transferred into a port cask (or “pipe”) which had absorbed some of the character of the port wines it had previously held.
He then sampled the whisky every month to ensure its character is enhanced and developed by this process, whilst preserving its original characteristics.
The unique taste of the Balvenie Portwood is created by an unusual storage process while it is maturing. The Portwood is stored in port casks or port pipes which have been used previously for approximately 30 years to store the finest port wines. This enhances the Portwood with depths of character while retaining the characteristics of the best Balvenie whiskies. Great care is taken to ensure that the flavours of the Portwood are balanced correctly. Maturing in the port casks is intended to enhance and deepen the notes of the whisky without overcoming the original flavours of the single malt. This balance is achieved by carefully testing the Portwood on a regular basis while it is in the port casks. The Portwood is allowed to mature for 21 years. This longer maturing time allows the fruity tones to deepen which makes the Portwood a very potent drink with a complex and distinctive taste.
The success of this approach soon won international recognition and, in 2004, Balvenie PortWood 21 Year Old was described as “class in a glass” by judges at the International Wine and Spirits competition as they awarded it a trophy for “best single malt 12 years and over”.
In 2012, the last year it was rated at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, The Balvenie Port Wood Cask Finish 21 Year Old was awarded a double gold.
Balvenie Port Wood Tasting Notes
Nose: nutty, peach, smoke, vanilla, wood
Flavours: caramel, fruity, honey, raisins, spicy, white grape
Finish: slightly bitter
- Category: Scotch Single Malt
- Whisky Region: Speyside
- Age: 21 y.o.
- Alc.: 40%