The Balvenie Peat Week 14 Years Old (2002 Vintage) is the result of trials undertaken in 2001 by Malt Master David Stewart, at a time when very few Speyside distilleries used peat in whisky production. Ever since then they’ve had one Peat Week per year, doing peated runs using 100% Highland peat to dry their malted barley (30 ppm phenols but the non-phenolic particles are more prominent).
This is the first wide-scale release of this style (following a peated Triple Cask for travel retail in June 2017), matured in American oak casks. The distillery already hinted at the release of a 50 years old Balvenie Peat Week in the future.
Balvenie 14 yo 2002 ‘Peat Week’ (48,3%, OB 2017, 3000 btl.)
Nose: I like this kind of peat, it’s warm, earthy and not at all loud. Lots of tobacco notes, sweet almonds and hints of vanilla. Subtle floral overtones and zingy lemons. Hints of overripe yellow apple as well. Nice farmy touches in the background (after all Dufftown is closer to Brora than it is to Islay).
Mouth: sweet smoke, like sugared Lapsang tea, alongside earthy and lightly bitter elements (cloves, charred wood, smoked oranges). Hints of crème brûlée, honey and still a floral edge (bergamot perhaps). All-spice, a little liquorice.
Finish: long, soft and smoky, with drying tea, cocoa and cereals.
Certainly worth trying. It’s much smoother and less medicinal than an Islay whisky, but it’s well made and well balanced and it brings something different to the table. Hard to get outside of the UK, best option is Master of Malt now. Around € 65.