The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch 12 Year Single Barrel Review

By: Fork & Stave

Proof: 95.6 Proof (47.8% ABV)

Cask Number: 12745   Bottle Number: 27

Rating:  4 Barrels(4 out of 5)

While I was in London this past Spring for work, I visited a local liquor store, looking for something unique.  After explaining my love for American whiskey to the shop owner and describing the taste profiles I enjoy in a great dram, he pointed me to this bottle.  After tasting a sample, I was hooked.  This whisky is delicious.  It has so many of the flavor elements that I love about bourbon with additional overtones of fruit, cream, and vanilla.  Here’s a note from The Balvenie website:

New for 2013, this Single Barrel expression from The Balvenie has been aged for 12 years in a first fill Bourbon cask of a single distillation. While each cask is subtly different, The Balvenie Malt Master hand selects only those casks characterized by sweetness and subtle vanilla oak to be bottled as The Balvenie Single Barrel. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 300 hand-numbered bottles drawn from a single cask, making each bottle unique and unrepeatable.

Tasting Notes: After letting it breathe for 10 minutes, I tasted this Scotch whisky neat.

Nose: Gobs of vanilla, apples, cream, and sweetness fill your nostrils tailed by delicate notes of fruits, honey, cloves, cinnamon, and toffee.

First Sip: A burst of vanilla, cream soda, and sweet brown sugar hit the tongue with that cinnamon spice hot on it’s heels.  As the flavor profile continues to build, the sweet notes give over to the cloves and hints of pears.

Mouth Feel: I love the coating feel of this whisky on the palate.  The flavors linger allowing you to really enjoy the complexity of the spirit.  It’s wonderful.

Finish: The finish is long with a nice burn and hints of those glorious fruit notes as the whisky retreats.

Summary: The Balvenie 12 year Single Barrel is a perfect gateway for bourbon drinkers looking to broaden their palates, but who aren’t sure they are ready for the smoky peat flavor common in most Scotch whisky.  I really enjoyed the whole experience and I’m glad I was able to try something new.  I definitely recommend trying this Scotch if you’re interested in expanding your foray into whisky.  At the price point, about $65 to $70 in most spots, this isn’t a home bar addition for everyone.  The price is really the only drawback for me, but you definitely get a great product for the money.  If you’re on the fence, ask your local bartender for a dram next time you’re at your local watering hole.  The Balvenie has several other options that I will cover in the coming months.