Single malt whisky - tasting notes

20 Aug 2013

Balvenie 12 Years single barrel

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: Balvenie

The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel First Fill is a 2013 addition to The Balvenie’s range, a younger sibling to the 15 year old single cask. These are limited edition bottlings: it’s one of around 300 drawn from a single cask made from American white oak. The sample I purchased comes from the first cask to have hit the British market.


Balvenie 12 years Single BarrelBalvenie 12 yo Single Barrel (47,8%, OB 2013, first fill bourbon barrel #12742)

Nose: fresh, clean, sweet, modern, youngish. Quite cereally, with a big candied sweetness: pear drops and lemon candy. Vanilla. It’s not all sweetness though, as the new-sawn oak and accompanying spices (cinnamon, ginger) are clearly present. A light yeasty note as well. Mouth: on the light side, with similar flavours. Lots of malty notes, a little honey, some coconut. Baked apple and cinnamon sugar. Fades on gentle citrus zest and oak. Finish: a bit short. Citrusy and cereally. Ever more spicy notes as well.

The Balvenie has always had high standards, so it comes as no surprise this is a well-produced, smooth dram, but a slightly boring one as well. What would have been a nice profile for a standard 12 year-old, is just not enough to be bottled as a single cask. I can only assume it was deliberately kept simple and aimed at ‘single cask beginners’, hence hollowing out the single cask concept a little. Around € 50.

Score: 82/100

Balvenie 12 Years single barrel 3 Ruben Luyten 2013-08-20
  • WhiskyBrother Marc

    I recently got a bottle of the new duty-free 16yo Triple Cask, and I feel exactly the same way about it: it’s boring. Good whisky, but uninspiring to drink. I have the sad feeling that more and more whiskies are being released specifically for new whisky drinkers.

  • Ricardo

    I’ve tried many Balvenies over the years and never quite know what to think of them. Same is true of Glenrothes.

  • WhiskyNotes

    I have to say the older Balvenies have never disappointed me. The younger ones are more ‘generic’ but I’m afraid that can be said of many distilleries these days.

  • Ricardo

    I’ve got a little left in my 25 YO bottle, that one I like. Recently found some things to like in the 17 YO Doublewood.

  • Dungeon

    I quite like the Balvenie 12 yo Single Barrel which I purchased in the Netherlands at 37 €. Niche fresh bourbon barrel. The Triple Cask however is very dull imo. I would rate these at 86 points (single Barrel) and 78 (Triple Cask)

  • WhiskyNotes

    Do you know which barrel exactly? I suppose each will be a little different, one a bit better than the other.



December 2014
« Nov    

  • Dirk V.: I think Inge L. does a fantastic job with her whisky flavoured chocolates ;-)
  • SK: And just to prove a point, all of the bottles are still available in places where they usually run out. Lets see how many will be still available whe
  • SK: 2 years ago I tried the Caol Ila 1982 from Archives. What a fantastic whisky. Since then I always try to stock these Caol Ila from the 80s. Sadly no

Coming up

  • Octomore 6.3 258ppm
  • Peated Irish 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Ardbeg 1974 for Christmas
  • Spirit of Freedom 30 Years
  • Arran #3 (TBWC)
  • Auchentoshan 1990 (Archives)
  • Ben Nevis 1996 (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old

1682 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.