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Balvenie Single Barrel 15 year old review

I got a chance to try bottle number 19 from batch 8590 of Balvenie Single Barrel 15 year old single malt at our local whisky society blind tasting. Maturation started in Ex-Bourbon casks in August 1997, bottled in October 2012. With a maximum of only 350 bottles per batch, the hopes were high on this whisky.

Balvenie 15yo Single Barrel whisky review

The Balvenie distillery is located in the Speyside region, in Dufftown, Scotland and it’s owned by William Grant & Sons. They have quite large and well respected core range and special bottlings. Somehow their products have never rubbed me the right way. Their whiskies are usually okay in my book, but nothing more.

Like BITTER MOON – just okay

Balvenie Single Barrel 15YO was no exception. Just okay. Actually the start was quite horrible, fortunately managing to get better while resting a while in the nosing glass. First there was a horrific, fermented kind of cider aromas, which really didn’t keep my hopes high anymore. The taste felt much better, and with time, the nose got a bit better.

Literally, this 15YO Balvenie is like Bitter Moon, when thinking about movies like I always do. Promising cast and an okay execution but not great. Balvenie turned out to be a disappointment in our blind tasting, which is usually the fun part when tasting blind. We all knew what was on the menu, but had no idea that Balvenie with its Single Barrel dram was so modest. If I remember correctly, the overall score was something like 79 or 80 points from 12 judges.

Matured in:
Ex-Bourbon casks
Colour: Sunlight
Nose: Fermented cider and sour apples start the horror show. Fortunately it gets sweeter while resting in the glass and with addition of water. Honey pops up and the green fruits get more mature.
Taste: Watery at the start, yet strong at the end. Mild with toffee and creamy vanilla. Barley and riped fruits are present as well. Drops of water makes it smoother.
Finish: Spicy and dry with barley. Bitter ending, a bit too bitter for my taste.
Balance: Definitely a roller coaster ride with its uncertain nose and finish and good taste. Gets better if you give it some time. Strong character, though – usually when I say a whisky is just okay, it’s because of a light palate. Balvenie Single Barrel isn’t light, it just doesn’t suit so well for me.


Distillery: Balvenie Region: Speyside Non-chill filtered, no added colour ABV: 47.8%

Ralfy scores this Balvenie very high, 91 points:

Johannes Lindblom
Johannes Lindblom
Finnish whisky enthusiast and the author of WhiskyRant! A digital marketing professional by day – a whisky reviewer and informer by night.

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