In honor of International Whisk(e)y Day, Maxim.com’s Spirit Of the Week comes from one the most esteemed houses across all forms of whisk(e)y—from bourbon to Irish and Japanese to rye.
The Balvenie has grown steadily under the expert guidance of Malt Master David C. Stewart, MBE.
Stewart’s contributions to the Queen and Kingdom are so profound, in fact, that in 2016 he was presented a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the third highest ranking Order of the British Empire.
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It’s no small thing to say The House of Balvenie was built on Stewart’s experimentations with second finishes—aging a spirit in a second barrel after initial maturation in another barrel—from which the Speyside distillery’s core bottles were born: DoubleWood 12-Year-Old, Caribbean Cask 14-Year-Old and PortWood 21-Year-Old.
The process starts with barley grown on The Balvenie estate’s 1,000-acre farm, malted and copper pot-distilled on site, and then aged for said years in American ex-bourbon oak casks. Depending on the expression, the single malt then goes through second-age in the barrels that correspond to its line: fresh European Sherry casks (for DoubleWood), West Indies rum barrels (for Caribbean Cask) and port wine pipes (for the amazing PortWood).
The Balvenie has announced a new permanent member to its Cask Finishes range: The Balvenie French Oak 16 Year-Old.
The fourth entry in the Cask Finishes Range, as the name suggests, is made from wood that had previously been used to hold Pineau wine from French Charentes vineyards. The story goes that during the travels of William Grant & Sons U.S. Ambassador Lorne Cousin made a discovery in France while traveling with William Grant & Sons U.S. eau-de-vie.
These barrels were the beginning of experiments.
“As part of our continued journey of exploration and innovation, we found that French wine casks offer a light, fresh finish we had not previously leveraged,” the esteemed Malt Master Stewart explains.
“Pineau des Charentes’ vibrant and distinct flavors, extracted from our signature double maturation process, not only bring greater depth to our range but deliver an element of luxury and craft that is unmistakably The Balvenie.”
French Oak 16 Year-Old is as you would expect from The Balvenie It has an oily, rich flavor and beautiful color, which is luxurious even by the high standards set for single malts. The Pineau French Oak casks add citrus notes of lemon rind and grapefruit, as well as ice wine and ginger to The Balvenie’s traditional vanilla, honey and oak base.
The Balvenie French Oak 16 Year-Old Bottled at 47.6% ABV and a SRP of $175
Follow Contributing Spirits Editor Nicolas Stecher at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.
Spirit Of The Week: The Balvenie French Oak 16-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky