The Balvenie is a malt that I first encountered as a gift. My parents, knowing their son all too well, appeared back from a holiday with a bottle of whisky for me from duty free. As they were returning from some sun-soaked region of the Caribbean and I had been suffered through the rigours of a Northern Irish January, they had decided that a dram would lift the spirits. Indeed, it did. The location of their holiday seemed fitting to me, given the bottle that returned - it was a rum cask finish, which I had never come across. I would love to be able to give notes on it, but sadly that bottle predeceased this blog’s birth by a number of years. Another bottle will be procured for tasting purposes; never say I don't do anything for my readers. What I can remember of it was the beautiful sweetness that the cask finish had added - a sweetness like no other I've discovered since.
Trip down memory lane over, I was delighted to see this included in the dram club this month. Despite that stunning bottle, my foray into The Balvenie began and ended with it. At the time I didn't have a very big collection or a particularly refined palate and generally defaulted to Macallan because I knew I liked it. This lacuna has since been remedied to some extent but Balvenie was forgotten. Well, no more - my two experiences have been great!
So, Peat Week is literally just that - a week in the year in which Balvenie made peated whisky. It is interesting to note that the 2002 vintage was the inaugural run and ever since the distillery has dedicated one week of the year to the pursuit of peat. For those interested, the barley used is peated to 30PPM. The distillery takes heritage and craftsmanship to a whole new level. They still grow and malt a proportion of their own barley, which is rare but not unique. What has struck me as being somewhat unique is that they have their own coppersmiths and coopers on site. The dedication to what Balvenie have called the Five Rare Crafts of Whisky Making is heartening to see in an increasingly mechanised age.
Now, my notes on the 2002 Peat Week:
Appearance: Golden Amber
Nose: Treacle sweetness masks a wisp of peat smoke; there is a spice note that comes close to, but never reaches the intensity of, clove; pepper; oaky vanilla becomes more apparent when a drop of water is added; citrus notes come and go.
Palate: Sugary sweetness is reminiscent of caramel or nougat; smoke is again secondary to the sweetness and is noticeable on the back of the palate; the peppery spice follows through from the nose with a tingle on the tongue; the vanilla is there, but very subtle.
Finish: Long and sweet with a spicy tingle on the roof of the mouth.
A bottle of Balvenie Peat Week will be joining the ranks in my collection - it is everything I love about Speyside mixed with the peaty goodness of Islay.
The Cask Blog is now an affiliate with our friends at Master of Malt. If you want to buy great whisk(e)y and support the Blog, without paying a penny extra, I'd appreciate if you would click through one of the following links to let them know I sent you -
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask - https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/balvenie/balvenie-14-year-old-caribbean-cask-whisky/?srh=1