Review: Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel (First Fill Bourbon) Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 Years; First Fill Bourbon Barrels
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Balvenie (Dufftown, Scotland)

One of the more highly acclaimed Balvenies from their core range - matured wholly in first fill bourbon casks for 12 years, and then being released with no chill-filtering and a higher alcohol percentage (47.8%) than the rest of their core range. Each barrel yields less than 300 bottles, resulting in batches which consist of less than 300 bottles.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

The nose certainly shows bourbon! Oak, tropical fruit- dried mango, passionfruit – raisins, pear, cinnamon, clove, and some buttery custard, banana cream pie – along with some sour corn, almost like a sour bourbon. A bit confectionary -  even more so as it sits. The palate shows more tropical fruit, a lot of pear, watermelon, and a nice underlaying of fruitcake spices, though without the dried fruit. The finish is fairly sweet and a touch tannic, and is sweet and creamy – with some nice malt, honey, hay, green tea, and tingly spice. The tannins give a bit of dry-ness on the finish which I quite appreciate. The ABV of this is very nice – I think it might be rather sweet and flat otherwise.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, based on $155. I should note that the Balvenie has had a price explosion here in Canada, with this bottling going from $125 to $155 in a short few months. At $125, the value score of this whisky is 25/100