Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Balvenie Single Malt Whisky: Tradition in a Bottle

A rich heritage of tradition and a dedicated commitment to quality differentiates the best from the rest, and The Balvenie, one of Scotland's premium single malt whiskies, is a fine example of the handcrafted spirit. 

Each sip of The Balvenie Range of fine single malts brings the true and authentic taste of the Scottish Highlands, experienced in one special and intimate tasting session at The Fairmont.

Neil Strachan (R), Regional Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie in Southeast Asia, shares his love, knowledge, and passion for fine and premium whisky. Raised in Aberdeen, Scotland, Neil Strachan knows whisky inside and out, and there's no one more qualified than Neil to take on the emerging market in Southeast Asia.

Neil Strachan began the intimate tasting session of The Balvenie with a brief overview and history of the famed distillery, and the tedious process of distilling one of Scotland's finest. Owned and managed by the same independent family company for five generations, The Balvenie Distillery remains totally committed and dedicated to the traditions, care, and craftsmanship in the fine art of malt whiskies. Today, The Balvenie Distillery remains the only distillery that grows its own barley in a thousand-acre farm known as The Balvenie Mains. The Balvenie Distillery still malts in its own traditional floor maltings, coopers continue to tend all the casks, and a coppersmith tends the stills. All under the watchful eyes of its legendary in-house malt master, David Stewart, the longest-serving Malt Master in the industry. This commitment to excellence and tradition is best experienced in The Balvenie Range of award-winning single malts, which includes The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old, The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Old, The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year Old, The Balvenie PortWood 21 Year Old, and The Balvenie Thirty, a limited rare edition.

Our tasting session started with The Balvenie DoubleWood Aged 12 Years, a distinct single malt matured in two woods. Over its period of maturation, it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill European oak sherry cask. The traditional casks soften and add character, while the sherry wood brings depth and fullness to the flavor.  The nose picks up subtle sweet fruit and cherry notes, followed by layers of honey and vanilla. A sip delivers bold, smoky notes yet smooth and mellow with hints of nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness and a delicate layer of sweet sherry. The various layers of different notes linger long after the first sip, and my flight with The Balvenie Range is off to a great start.

Neil Strachan then proudly introduced two distinct single malts in The Balvenie Range, The Balvenie Caribbean Cask Aged 14 Years and The Balvenie Peated Cask Aged 17 Years to complete the flight. The length of the maturing process is not the only element in defining the notes of these premium single malts, the casks used also add layers of subtle nuances in its character.

The Caribbean rum casks, previously filled with select West Indian Rum, add a whisper of tropical fruit and creamy toffee with a smooth vanilla finish to The Balvenie Caribbean Cask Aged 14 Years, resulting in a subtle yet whole new flavor character. Layers of aromatic spices and citrus notes add to the vibrant tapestry of tasting notes in every sip. The use of different casks imparts new flavors without altering the base notes, and one can experience balanced flavors with a smooth and elegant finish.

The Balvenie Peated Cask Aged 17 Years is yet another distinct single malt, with the use of peated casks to finish the maturation process.  The longer maturation delivers a smoother and more rounded finish, releasing distinct notes.

A sip delivers a noticeably more pronounced smoky and bold flavor, a result of casks previously filled with intensely peated malt infusing its own rich and spicy layers to The Balvenie Peated Cask Aged 17 Years. Whispers of floral notes, along with honey and vanilla add to the richness of the The Balvenie Peated Cask Aged 17 Years for a sweet, robust and sharp smoky finish. Intensely flavored yet smooth with an elegant finish, clearly one of the best.

And these are just some of the excellent single malts in The Balvenie range, which include The Balvenie Single Barrel Aged 15 Years, The Balvenie DoubleWood Aged 17 years, The Balvenie PortWood Aged 21 Years, and the rare The Balvenie Thirty, The Balvenie Forty, and The Balvenie Fifty. "Filipinos have excellent taste in drinks. Authentic Scotch whisky like The Balvenie will appeal to their discerning palate, complementing the love for celebrations and the good life," shared Neil Strachan. This plays well with the constantly evolving palate of local diners and consumers, as The Balvenie single malt whiskies also pair well with local and international cuisine to complete the dining experience. But The Balvenie is a unique experience in itself, with the rich tradition, heritage and history of the famed Scottish Highlands locked in each and every bottle.

William Grant & Sons, the makers of The Balvenie, is currently eying the Philippine market in its plan to promote its fine spirits in the region. The company is confident that the Filipino's high regard for excellent quality and craftsmanship perfectly match with their 128-year heritage of liquor-making.

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