The Balvenie 17, `Peated cask’

The Balvenie 17, ‘peated cask’ is part of the range of 17 year old Balvenie releases that, up to last year were released annually.

There is an interesting story behind this one too. The whisky is aged as normal Balvenie and then introduced to casks that held PEATED BALVENIE! It is then married with Balvenie in new American oak before being bottled. They released something similar and highly popular a number of years earlier involving peated Islay casks, but the intrigue here lie in the nature of the peated Balvenie (malted barley dried with peat smoke, distilled at Balvenie and now maturing).

You see Balvenie don’t make peated whisky and have never, as far as I know, released a peated version. Though tasting this finished whisky is not the same as tasting the mystery peated version, it at least gives some insight (in the absence of any other kind) into what peated Balvenie might actually be like. That peated Balvenie is being matured somewhere in Scotland and, one day, it will be available. 

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So, knowing the above I had to buy a bottle of this to try. Here are the dram stats.

The Balvenie, Peated Cask

  • Age 17
  • ABV 43%
  • Price £75 (when bought), £67 (today)

Nose: Sickly sweet peat smoke. Smokey sherbet. Honey, baked red apples, cinnamon, star anise. With water richer fruits appear with baked plums, a touch of nutmeg, but with the smoke toned down.

Palate: Honey, golden syrup, baked red apple and cinnamon spice. Touch of pepper.

Finish: Sweet smoke, honey sweetness well balanced with oak at the end. Dries more with less smoke with water added.

Verdict: This is a moreish whisky and a real session dram. Don’t add water! Whilst it doesn’t ruin the dram,, it hides a lot of the lovely smoke from the peated Balvenie. This is a different kind of peat. Sweet and unusual. The big question is, would I recommend buying it? The answer to that depends on your reason to buy it. My problem with this whisky is not the taste, but the price. £70 is a lot of money for what I would call a session whisky. It’s not overly complex for a 17yo and I expect a little more for that sort of money. However, there is the intrigue of trying peated Balvenie (even if it only impacts the finish and is not yet the real stuff). If you want to know what peated Balvenie is going to be like, this is the best hint we have, and for that reason this is a bit of a whisky geek’s whisky. I don’t regret buying the bottle and if, like me, the curiosity is too much, then ultimately it is a good purchase. The inner geek will be satisfied and you still have a very drinkable bottle of whisky to enjoy. If you can wait for the release of the real peated version, I’d do that and explore something else from the excellent Balvenie range in the meantime.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Balvenie 17, `Peated cask’

  1. I like the idea of distillery character. I know it’s illusory, because there are so many variables in making a whisky, but I do think a distillery ought to stick to one style. Or do as Springbank, and have other names for their other styles.

    So I didn’t fancy the idea of peated Balvenie. And didn’t like the whisky. As you say Danny, sickly.

    A pedantic afterword. Malt for the normal Balvenie is lightly peated.

    • Hey Rod,

      Glad you found my blog thanks for commenting. I didn’t know Balvenie was slightly peated. What sort of PPM? Must be pretty low. Every time I’ve been up that way it’s been winter (I like Scotland in the winter, no midges) and Balvenie is closed to visitors. Hence I’ve not done the tour. You learn something new every day!

      As regards a distillery having a character, I think that works sometimes, but there are too many distilleries for them all to be utterly unique. We should also remember that most single malt used peated barely and coal fired stills years ago, so character has evolved. However, The Balvenie has a very specific character and maybe the peated version will just be a gimmick. Certainly this finish was (I am not generally a fan of finished whisky) and “sickly” is probably the best word.

      I don’t know, reading this review back it’s probably too positive, but it is a new blog. Didn’t want to be too controversial early on.

      My view on the Springbank/Bruichladdich idea is slightly different to yours. I like the idea of different brands, and that is preferable to “peated” and “unpeated” versions of one, but as we are talking about single malts they should still be named after the distillery they were distilled at. So PC should really be “Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte” and similar for Octomore, Hazleburn and Longrow.

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