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Balvenie 15 Yr. Single Barrel

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Balvenie 15 Yr. Single Barrel

Postby ScotchPalate » Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:53 am

Hi there,
I was trying to decide which Balvenie to get, and just decided on the Balvenie 15 Yr. Single Barrel. I know there is likelyhood of variance because it's a Single Barrel edition. Mine isn't bad, it's got a great lingering aftertaste, but the alcohol is very strong to the nose, and a bit rough on the tongue. It's only 47.8% ABV. A while back I tried a bit of Macallan Cask Strength (at 58% ABV), as I remember it wasn't this hard on my nose and palate. Yes, I add a bit of water. It opens up the spicyness (citrus--orangey) of this malt but not much else and it still seems rough on my nose and tongue.

So, anybody else experience this? Did I maybe get an off bottle? Or am I just being a wee Pansy that needs to get used to a stronger malt? :lol:

Bottling Date: 14.04.05
In Cask Date: 11.01.90
Cask No. 926
Bottle No. 203
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:12 am

There is variablility in the 15, but all in all it's pretty consistent, I think, so I'd be surprised if what you experienced is out of line with other bottlings. But I'm surprised, really, because I don't find it particularly spirity at all. On the other hand, I'm quite used to drinking cask strengths neat, so 47.8% isn't at all a big deal to me.
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Postby Reggaeblues » Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:02 pm

I had a bottle of the 47.8% that I really enjoyed. But it was much drier than the one I had before, which was 50.4%. Almost a different whisky. I'd say the 50.4 was rounder...even reminiscent of my (limited) experience of an HP 18 in terms of the depth. Of the two, I'd say the earlier one is more "my kind o' dram".

I loved it, whereas I merely "really liked" the newer one!
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Postby The Fachan » Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:03 pm

Haven't tried the whisky but 47.8% for a 15yo sets the alarm bells ringing. Would expect nearer 55% plus.
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Postby suffolkwhisky » Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:24 pm

It is my understading that whilst the Balvenie 15 is from a single barrel, it is not released at cask strength and is watered down for consistency.

It is a fantastic dram too!
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Postby ScotchPalate » Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:47 pm

Aha!, so what you're saying is.....that I'm a wee pansy that needs to get used to a more spirity malt!! :P :P :lol: :lol: :lol:

Ok, I'll do mi best. Thanks for the input.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:02 pm

I think your impression is justified. I've only had one bottle of the 15 Single Barrel but there have been other whiskies at relatively standard strenght that have been "rough" around the edges - maybe even spirity.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:34 pm

The Fachan wrote:Haven't tried the whisky but 47.8% for a 15yo sets the alarm bells ringing. Would expect nearer 55% plus.


Obviously it's watered to a set strength--can it be only to save printing different labels for each release? It's a shame the've chosen to weaken it this much, but it's still a great dram to me. Must have been in response to all those people complaining it was "rough on the tongue"! :P :wink:

If a wee drap o' water helps, then go for it. The beauty of stronger bottlings is that we can each decide for ourselves how strong to take it.
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Postby peergynt323 » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:42 pm

I had a bad bottle of Balvenie 15yo. Tasted like bubblegum.
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Postby Reggaeblues » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:45 pm

Mr TH wrote: "Obviously it's watered to a set strength--can it be only to save printing different labels for each release?"

Then how come the previous version was bottled at 50.4%?

They'll probably release another soon that's a different strength again...

BTW has anybody here ever heard of a whisky called "Spyniemor?" Was given a bottle a while ago from "The Whisky Connoisseur." 22YO 51-ish %.
never heard of it before or since, and quite unlike anything I've had before or since.Would love to get some more, but can't get a contact address or no. for the company.

Got to be a joke name for something else. Any clues?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:46 pm

I've tasted bubblegum in a few bottles, notably a Clynelish--a Cadenheads, I think--and it's not unpleasant if it's not overbearing. I'd be curious to know what specifically causes that flavor, chemically.
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Postby les taylor » Mon Jan 08, 2007 8:12 pm

Mr T wrote:.

I've tasted bubblegum in a few bottles, notably a Clynelish--a Cadenheads, I think--and it's not unpleasant if it's not overbearing. I'd be curious to know what specifically causes that flavor, chemically.


Could it be Wrigley's or Bazooka?


:)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 08, 2007 8:21 pm

Reggaeblues wrote:Mr TH wrote: "Obviously it's watered to a set strength--can it be only to save printing different labels for each release?"

Then how come the previous version was bottled at 50.4%?


If I'm not mistaken--always a big if, and no doubt I'll be told if I am--they were all 50.4% at one time, and now they are all 47.8%. A single barrel will only produce 250 bottles or so, so you don't have to hunt around too much to find different ones--two shops nearby each other are likely to have different bottlings, but the strengths are always the same. Why, and why such odd numbers, are good questions. Wish I'd thought to ask them when I toured the place.
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Postby ScotchPalate » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:41 pm

I'll give the Balvenie the benefit of the doubt and say that it's possible the new slew of barrels being used must be watered to a different strength to produce a worthy taste/uniform taste. Or it could be watered the max amount to keep generally the same taste and allow more bottles to be sold. If it was an American Manufacturer I'd say it was the latter.

However, when we look at the big selling Malts (and blends for that matter) many are right at 40% (or 43%). I've often wondered if some or many of these malts taste better at 45% or 50%, but the manufacturers/retailers water it down as much as possible to increase output & profit. Damn, what a cynical thought, I know.

Of corse, it could be because there are too many wee pansies out there like yours truly :oops: :P :D , that would avoid the stronger Scotches, even if the connoisseurs would enjoy them more.
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Postby peergynt323 » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:33 am

les taylor wrote:Mr T wrote:.

I've tasted bubblegum in a few bottles, notably a Clynelish--a Cadenheads, I think--and it's not unpleasant if it's not overbearing. I'd be curious to know what specifically causes that flavor, chemically.


Could it be Wrigley's or Bazooka?


:)


I also tasted it in Dalmore 21. I'd say it more closely resembles Bazooka or the gum in TOPPS baseball cards, which I never liked as a kid.

Here's an unsigned tidbit I found on a message board. Sounds plausible:
***
When I create a bubblegum flavor. I use several artificial and/or
natural chemicals along with essential oils. A basic bubblegum flavor
is made of ester(ethyl butyrate, ethyl acetate, etc), oils(orange
oils, wintergreen, etc) and sweet-ripe-juicy chemicals(ethyl maltol,
vanillin, maltol, etc). There are also many other ways to create a
bubblegum flavor with out these chemicals.
***

Another name for that bubblegummish flavor is "tutti frutti", which means "all fruits", if I'm not mistaken.
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Postby jimidrammer » Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:55 am

I've gotten bubblegum in the nose of the Balvenie 15yo, but not the taste. A pleasent aroma to me. I've also gotten it in Glenmorangie 15yo, Scapa 12yo and Highland Park 25yo (an older bottling). The one that gets me is toasted marshmallows in Bladnoch, Rosebank, and Ardmore
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:04 am

I don't know how relevant it is but I found a very strong sense of almonds - and marzipan.
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Postby ScotchPalate » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:53 pm

Tasted it, yet again last night. Same. No honey, no vanilla. Just a strong citrusy spicy block, and a nice lingering malty after-taste. Now that's it's been opened a few times and got some oxygen, maybe I'll let it sit for a week or two and come back to it, see if the taste changes at all. I hope so. That damn thing cost me $67 USD (after tax) :x Guess I'm going to try and taste every dram before I buy. :oops:
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Postby karlejnar » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:38 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:I don't know how relevant it is but I found a very strong sense of almonds - and marzipan.

Me too :P

(Balvenie Single Barrel, 15 yo, 47.8%, D:11.01.1990, B:08.04.2005 - open 11 months - another one soon gone)
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:35 am

karlejnar wrote:
Mr Fjeld wrote:I don't know how relevant it is but I found a very strong sense of almonds - and marzipan.

Me too :P

(Balvenie Single Barrel, 15 yo, 47.8%, D:11.01.1990, B:08.04.2005 - open 11 months - another one soon gone)

Great! When I get back home I'll check the cask number to see if it could be from the same one!
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Postby karlejnar » Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:03 pm

Mr Fjeld wrote:Great! When I get back home I'll check the cask number to see if it could be from the same one!

Bourbon Cask #831, btl#200
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:49 pm

karlejnar wrote:
Mr Fjeld wrote:Great! When I get back home I'll check the cask number to see if it could be from the same one!

Bourbon Cask #831, btl#200

Hi Karlejnar!
Not the same cask I'm afraid (cask nr: 8435, bottle: 224) but it's great to see that I'm not the only one with similar tasting impressions :D
It was a peculiar but great whisky - so I had to buy another one although a from different cask!

Cheers!
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Postby Tom » Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:23 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:
Reggaeblues wrote:Mr TH wrote: "Obviously it's watered to a set strength--can it be only to save printing different labels for each release?"

Then how come the previous version was bottled at 50.4%?


If I'm not mistaken--always a big if, and no doubt I'll be told if I am--they were all 50.4% at one time, and now they are all 47.8%. A single barrel will only produce 250 bottles or so, so you don't have to hunt around too much to find different ones--two shops nearby each other are likely to have different bottlings, but the strengths are always the same. Why, and why such odd numbers, are good questions. Wish I'd thought to ask them when I toured the place.


You are not mistaken MrT.
At one point all Balvenies up to 1985 were 50.4%, the 1985 itself was intruigingly bottled at 50.5% and everything afterwards should be 47.8% ABV.
I say "should be" since nobody knows exactly, I can only rely on my own research, the information gathered from the malt maniacs, my club contacts and the people that replied on my question a long time ago on this forum. ANY attempt to find an answer from the distillery itself has failed: mails, personal questionaries phonecalls etc. The answers were always elusive.
So after all is said and done I honestly have no idea whatsoever why they bottle the 15Y old at a set ABV and yet state that each bottling is single cask and from a single distillation run. Whats the point if you water them all down to the same ABV?????

As for the almonds and marzipan as stated by Mr Fjeld, I agree, I too have found an obvious presence of both, perhaps a litlle less marzipan. This is very common in bourbon matured whisky so you are quite right.

As to the initial question of Scotchpalate, as you can read in my tasting notes about Balvenie you will see we agree on the alcohol-bite of certain 15Y olds. The first 15 I sampled for this project was excellent in every aspect whereas the second was flawed only by its alcoholic pungency. The flavors on their own remain quite stable troughout every bottling, but there have been differences in each, and unfortunately some are more dramatic then others (the alcoholic pungency being a prime example). This being said even the worst 15Y old I sampled is still a great whisky. So lets relativate everything and keep an open mind. Usually the 15Y old is a fantastic dram. you just have to retaste it from time to time to get the whole picture.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:40 am

As far as I'm concerned, any differences are worth celebrating. If I got a really weird one that I didn't really like, it wouldn't bother me much at all--I think I'd actually enjoy it in a perverse way. (Two or three would start to upset me, though.) Fortunately, they are relatively consistent. Vive la différence!
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