The release of any vintage whisky is guaranteed to create a stir but the latest annual vintage cask from The Balvenie Distillery has certainly created a buzz.
A swarm of beekeepers descended on the distillery to help malt master David Stewart select two very special casks to become the 2009 Vintage.
A key characteristic of The Balvenie is its distinctive honeyed flavour and the beekeepers were invited to put their finely tuned noses and palates to the test to identify the casks that best exemplified a mature example of The Balvenie single malt's signature honeyed complexity.
Between them they singled out two casks from 1978 - cask numbers 6248 and 2705 - to become the new Vintage.
David said: "The panel quickly identified the subtle layers of complexity we look for in our vintage whiskies. The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1978 offers those distinctive honey notes, together with subtle oakiness, citrus fruits and a spicy vanilla sweetness".
British Beekeepers' Association honey judge Fiona Dickson often tastes up to 300 honeys in a single competition and was surprised at the similarities between judging a honey and single malt whisky, noted: "When selecting honey I look for the correct balance between sweetness and flavour and we drew upon the same skills in selecting The Balvenie Vintage Cask."
The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1978 is expected to go on sale from May 2009. It will retail at £450 a bottle.