Pineau des Charentes is a fortified wine: a mix of unfermented grape juice with cognac eau-de-vie. Most of it is consumed in France, but Belgium happens the be the biggest export market for this aperitif. Distilleries like Teeling have used it for a couple of successful finishes.
If I’m not mistaken, The Balvenie used red Pineau casks for this 16 year old expression. To make red Pineau they use red grapes (such as Cabernet sauvignon or Merlot) with a short maceration of the skins.
Balvenie 16 yo – French Oak (47,6%, OB 2022, Pineau Cask finish)
Nose: starts on fragrant wood with lots of blossomy notes (geranium and dandelion), not uncommon for French oak. Then the fruitiness starts moving forward, with plenty of white grapes, mirabelles and apricots. Golden raisins. Lemon peels and green apples too. Bergamot and honey. Sweeter and richer than the typical Balvenie.
Mouth: plenty of grape character again, with hints of yellow plums and honey as well. Then there’s a gingery side and some white pepper which gives it a good balance of sweetness and spice. White grapefruit and lemon candy. Later the rather green woody edge returns, moving towards grassy notes and flowers. Slightly overpowering the subtle Balvenie character.
Finish: medium long, sweet and spicy with a grassy side, citrus and a hint of walnut.
The Pineau Cask turned this Balvenie into a vibrant springtime whisky. The grape sweetness blends in nicely with the distillery character, but there’s a green woody side that is a little edgy. You can still get a bottle from The Whisky Exchange for instance. I got a sample from Whiskysite.nl.