Balvenie’s David Stewart was one of the first distillers to experiment with cask finishing, giving a mature whisky a second ageing period in a different cask type. In 1983 he created Balvenie Classic, which was rebranded in 1993 as Balvenie DoubleWood. Nowadays cask finishing is all over the market but it’s fairly new nonetheless.
Since 2012 the normal 12 years old version has an older sibling: Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Years. Matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks and later in European oak sherry casks.
Balvenie 17 yo DoubleWood
(43%, OB +/- 2017)
Nose: very fresh and bright, showing lemon meringue, crisp green apple and vanilla. Then some floral touches (old roses) as well as orange blossom honey. Just of hint of tropical fruits, as well as some cinnamon pastry. Light whiffs of fresh oak shavings. Delicate but good.
Mouth: a bit more sherried now, with yellow raisins, apricots, apples and toasted almonds. Oak spices (cinnamon, ginger) and orange peel. Vanilla custard. Honeysuckle. Hints of fruit cake.
Finish: honeyed and spicy, with a hint of milk chocolate and newish wood.
This older version has a more pronounced oaky side, with more spices. I love its bright and balanced nose, but the oaky tang on the palate makes it feel a little engineered and makes it loose a few points. Around € 110.