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

Balvenie 12 Single Barrel 2.jpg
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

Review (2020)

  • Batch: Cask 6555

  • Bottling Code: L34C 460427061638:33

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A real classic, this one. The last one I had, I liked, but it didn’t score as high analytically as some other barrels. But, I do love the profile of this here. Hay, peaches, dried apricot, vanilla, peaches, stewewd stone fruit, nutmeg, pineapple, and custard. The palate is rich with vanilla pudding, icing sugar, pear, nice earthy notes, slight smoke, and a flourish of dried fruit. A touch syrupy. The finish has malt, vanilla, creamed corn, more vanilla pudding, and oak.

It opens up very nicely with a few drops of water, which is how I like this best. Terrific barrel.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: A relatively expensive bottle. Average against the market at $115, low at $140 (Ontario prices…).