As I sit here reviewing this almost-single-malt I think about how clever this ploy of the whisky industry actually is. William Grants, the owners of Balvenie Distillery don’t want their distillery’s name on a bottle, so they teaspoon it with some Glenfiddich so it’s not technically Balvenie, and not technically Single Malt.
However, William Cadenhead, the bottler, now have their own brand name ‘Burnside’ linked to the quality of the whisky. I know there’s one bottle of Burnside bottled by Adelphi, but Cadenhead’s wasn’t overly happy with that. So now, Burnside is a brand too. And it’s a brand that comes with high expectations.
Last year at Maltstock, it was one of my favorite bottles available on the sharing table and over a glass of it I had some very interesting chats with Charles Maclean, who also loved it. When this particular one we’re about to review was announced I instantly jumped on it, since I really wanted something similar.
I can lift the veil already by saying it’s not as good as I remember the one at Maltstock to have been, but it still is a fairly cracking dram.
Very fruity on the nose, with stewed apple and brown banana. Not overly sweet and there’s quite a bit of oak to balance it all. The oak does impart a little bit of bitterness and dryness, but not a lot. Pretty intense, but even though the ABV is quite low, it is cask strength.
The palate is intense, but not very sharp. The apple is dialed back a little bit and the dry notes are more present. There’s quite a lot of oak, and a bit of leather. The apple does come back after a few seconds, but in a slightly more dry and ‘old’ way. Somehow, this whisky makes me think of pancakes, with golden syrup and bacon.
The finish carries on the pancakes and the apple. It’s quite a strange flavor to think of, but it is appetizing. The dryness is slightly less present, which makes it a bit sweeter, and the pancake batter highlights some of the cereal notes.
It’s not as good and as fruity as I remember the single cask from Maltstock to be, and the pancake flavors make it a whole different beasty. However, I do really like a whisky like this, since it is something a little bit more unique than ‘yet another Balvenie’. Good stuff!
Burnside 1991-2018, 26 years old, bourbon barrels, 46.7%. Available in Germany for € 150