BTC 2014 Sample 3

BTC Sample 3: Balvenie 15yo Single Barrel #214

Yesterday’s sample was a mixed result. Sample #3 is straight up my alley, into my confortzone: sweet, light and aromatic. Doesn’t make the guessing game much easier, though.

That Glen Garioch 22yo from yesterday (For which I scored a decent 47 points on age and ABV, so there is that)? Have it in my whisky cabinet, actually praised it in a non-BTC-related conversation two days ago and didn’t even think to pull it out for a comparison. I had a severe case of tunnelvision, thinking that the sample was from a Lowland distillery. You live, you learn, you make the same mistake you made several times last year apparently. But enough of that, on to today!

The nose starts off fairly closed, with an intense sweetness and some assorted white fruits in the background. With time, though, it blossoms beautifully and reveals banana, lemon, apple pie, a slow fermenting mash (prickly, sour fruit), a buttery note, fresh cut grass and heather. Well if this isn’t straight up my alley I don’t know what is. Refill bourbon-maturation perfection.

In the taste, the theme continues: soft sugary sweetness, apricot, mandarin orange and lemon form the fruit squad. Vanilla and american oak spices (white pepper and cinnamon) bring up the rear. A slight acidity helps offset all the sweetness. I don’t taste much, if any wood aside from the spices. Which is troublesome for the guessing, because I think this might be quite old based on the excellent balance.

Overall, well, a simple ‘Yum!’ should suffice. Remember then that the below score includes a good 2-3 points of ‘I really like this’-factor. As for the origins: I suppose Lowland would be a possibility, but I don’t taste many of the distinctive grassy notes that I associate with that region. Speyside is my guess, and my thoughts alternate between two distilleries: Dufftown and Miltonduff. The latter gets my vote, as I seem to remember more floral notes in the Dufftown bottlings I’ve tasted. Age is tricky, because of the lack of tannins, but on balance I’ve decided to go for a punt and assume this was in a very inactive refill-bourbon barrel for a long, long time.

My guess: Miltonduff, Speyside, 29yo, 48.5%
My score: 90/100

What it turned out to be:

Balvenie 15yo Single Barrel (whiskybase)
11.01.1999 - 13.02.2014
Cask#: 214
ABV: 47.8%

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