Balvenie produces a very lightly peated whisky throughout the year, but once every year (since 2002 at least) they’ve been producing heavily peated whisky. The first whisky of this ‘Peat Week’ program was released last year.
Ever since visiting Balvenie at the tail end of 2015, I have a soft spot for the distillery. I’m not their biggest fan, but I do keep an eye out for affordable special releases. This one, even though it’s heavily peated (normally a reason for amped up prices) falls in that category, clocking in at £ 59 (€ 66).
Also, somehow I think the bottle, label and tube look gorgeous. In the end the packaging doesn’t count, but I like that they put in some effort without it suddenly costing the world (cough Highland Park cough).
Quite a lot of peat on the nose, but still the whisky has the lightness of Balvenie. The sweet, honey-like character of Balvenie is present, but a bit more restrained than in their normal releases. Old white oak shavings, straw and ears of fresh barley. Later I get some cigars.
The palate is reasonably dry and intense. I think the slightly higher ABV is noticeable here. Lots of oak and earthy peat, with hints of heather and white oak shavings. Rather old fashioned with golden syrup and straw.
The finish is a bit lighter than I expected, but still has quite a lot of flavor. The oak shavings are back, as is the earthy peat. I get some candied lemon here.
The short of it is: I really like this whisky. I like that there is a special release that is really something else than the distillery produces. I like that it’s still affordable and that they didn’t release some 60% scorcher. The complexity isn’t the highest you’ll ever encounter in a dram, but there’s some and that makes it an easy sipper, while also a whisky that’s rather entertaining. Good stuff!
Balvenie Peat Week, 2002-2017, 14yo, 48.3%. Available from Master of Malt for £ 59.33