Balvenie Doublewood 17 Year & Caribbean Cask 14 Year

Reviews #46 & 47: Pair of Balvenie (Balvenie Doublewood 17 Year & Caribbean Cask 14 Year)

Distillery: Balvenie Distillery

Region: Speyside

Price: $20 for 3 50 mL samples (included a sample of Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year which I have previously reviewed here)

The 12 Year Old Balvenie Doublewood is one I really enjoy as a daily drinker. Having found this sampler pack (I love the holidays for stuff like this appearing everywhere!), I thought it would be great to try out some of their other expressions.

Review #46: Balvenie Doublewood 17 Year

ABV: 43%

Age: 17 year

Color: 1.2 Chestnut / Oloroso Sherry, definitely has had coloring added.

Nose: Lots of sherry and honey. There’s some dried fruit I can’t place along with some brown sugar and the tiniest hint of tobacco. Smells lovely and inviting.

Palate: Incredibly smooth, almost dangerously so. Just like the nose suggests, it’s sweet with honey and sherry sitting in the forefront. There is some of that extremely moist sponge cake that was also in the 12 year edition, which is lovely. Beyond that, there are a few herbal notes I can’t quite place as well as some well-aged/tempered oak spices. Lovely.

Finish: Medium in length. There’s a little more of oak spice as well as those herbal notes. The herbs are a little bitter and dry.

Conclusion: A bit of a letdown, in all honesty. This one just tastes like a slightly upgraded, extremely smooth version of the 12 year edition. While the nose is lovely and the palate has some great flavors in the moist sponge cake and sherry, the finish is a bit disappointing. It’s definitely incredibly easy to drink but I don’t think that alone will justify the price tag of $135+ for this. Stick to the 12 year version, you’re not missing much.

Final Score: 83

Review #47: Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year

ABV: 43%

Age: 14 year

Color: 1.2 Chestnut / Oloroso Sherry, definitely has had coloring added. It’s the exact same color as the 17 year.

Nose: Passion fruit and some spices (perhaps from the rum?). There is also a slightly unpleasant solvent note that kind of lingers near the end.

Palate: Not as sweet as I would have expected from a rum cask, the other offerings are sweeter. It is creamy with some notes of spiced rum and caramel accompanied by a lovely prickly pineapple and some ginger. This one benefits from not having water added as the water completely washes away the pineapple note.

Finish: Medium-to-short in length. There’s some more of the rum spices along with something that tastes a whole lot like agave nectar.

Conclusion: Well that was definitely different. While the passionfruit note in the nose is lovely, the solvent that comes along with it really isn’t. Unfortunately none of that passionfruit is found in the palate where it is replaced by a slightly-underripe-prickly pineapple. The palate isn’t as sweet as I thought it would be from something aged in a rum cask and it’s almost to the point where there is hardly any sweetness at all. The agave nectar right at the end of the finish doesn’t mix particularly well, in my opinion. Overall, interesting enough to try once, but one I will not be seeking in the future.

Final Score: 76

Final Thoughts: Bit of a disappointment but it was nice to get to try these two. While the 17 year is one of the smoothest drams I’ve had, it isn’t much of an upgrade on the 12. While the rum cask 14 year is interesting, it’s interesting in the wrong kind of way. Perhaps they would be better at a high ABV.

Scotch whisky review #46 & 47, Speyside whiskey review #21 & 22, Whisky Network Review #63 & 64

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection.
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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