Monday, 24 February 2014

I Can Stop at Any Time

Balvenie Doublewood 17yo - 43%

Just one more hit
Ahh, Balvenie Doublewood. My gateway malt. Back when I was still stuggling to appreciate whisky (diesel and hairspray being the only two notes I could readily identify), the Doublewood 12yo was the tranquil eye of a gustatory storm. Back then a single dram of The Balvenie on a Saturday, in a tumbler no less, was all I needed to slake my whisky thirst. These days it's all peat on toast and mainlining single cask 'dronachs.

As a result, subsequent returns to Balvenie expressions have left me somewhat underwhelmed. 21yo Port...meh. 12yo Single Barrel...meh. 30yo...expensive meh. To this day I've yet to return to the Doublewood 12 lest memories of my whisky infancy be cruelly destroyed. They say you should never meet your heroes. Therefore it is with some trepidation that I approach its older sister, the Doublewood 17.

Sweet. Bags of sweeties; honeyed patisserie fare with snatches of marzipan. The sherry is evident but the vanilla and honey notes, so linked with bourbon casks, dominate.

Water does not detract from the liveliness of the nose. A teaspoon of water leaves a nip in the glass, preceding a boosted vanilla/marzipan note. Summer fruits join the party, given a little time.

More honey. Almond biscotti with Christmas spices. The sherry is more noticeable with raisins and dark wood featuring.

With the water it's still a sweetie. Creamy now; imagine porridge swirled with strawberry jam. The spices are still there and, although softened, the wood stands proud. Toffee and caramel make a late play.

Medium length and nicely balanced. Warming with lingering honey and drying oak. Mildly astringent and, if I'm being critical, possibly a little heavy on the back end.

Water dampens the sweetness but does not alter the warmth. Less astringency but enough wood and spice to keep things interesting.

This is a very capable malt. I can't really compare it to the 12 as it has been so long since I tried it. Also, I imagine my palate is more seasoned. This is a tad expensive for what it is but still enjoyable and approachable; everything you'd expect from a Balvenie.

Grade: B
If I hadn't spent the last three years consuming weapons-grade Islays, I'd probably rate it more highly.

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