The Balvenie, producers of one of my favorite whiskies (the Single Barrel 15 year), has added this rum cask-finished expression to their permanent line. As always, it’s nice to see a distillery that is willing to expand its ‘standard’ line, rather than rest on its laurels. This expression comes after a limited-run bottling of a 17 year rum cask which had been matured in the cask, not just finished. There is also a golden rum finished version which is exclusive to travel retail.
Nose: Golden raisins, green grass, marshmallows. More ‘white rum’ than dark. A little winey, like white port. A dash of water wakes up the dram – passion fruit, limeade, and bright florals.
Palate: Medium-thick mouthfeel. Minimal burn gives way to round maltiness, sweet bakery goods, and a green vegetal note. Brown sugar. With the water, there is more green sugarcane.
Finish: Medium-long, nice and oaky, with a distinct lack of bitterness. A bit of sassafras and molasses on the fade-out. Pleasant.
Overall: A nice, round whisky with an interesting twist. The rum doesn’t come through as “rummy”, but more vegetal and malty. In fact, the expected molasses note doesn’t appear until the tail-end of the finish. That said, it’s a nice, easy-drinking Balvenie with clear malt character. Unfortunately, I think this one is priced a little high, as it’s not significantly better than the (12 year) DoubleWood, which can be found for under $40, and it’s not as good as the (15 year) Single Barrel, which is similarly priced.
If you do try a dram, I think the water amps up the flavor and reveals a full range of very nice Balvenie house characteristics. I suggest the water.