This 12 year-old expression from The Balvenie is aged in first- or second-fill bourbon casks, with up to a further year in first-fill oloroso sherry casks. While The Balvenie’s range is typified by honey and a distinct heather flavor, the DoubleWood’s sherry influence is bigger and weightier, hiding some of those delicate florals. The Balvenie is my favorite Speyside distillery, and they have an interesting range of different cask finishes, from port barrels to a new rum cask matured 14-year.
Update 7/31/2023: I’ve published a new review of this whisky 12 years later, to see if the quality remains the same.
Color: Medium Gold
Nose: Smells like peaches and peach-pit, marzipan, cedarwood and pine, honeydew melon. A drop of water tames the alcohol fumes, and releases a ghost of heather, clover, and mown grass.
Palate is heavy with vanilla and woodiness, complimented by a toothy mouthfeel. Flavors of freshly-baked sugar cookies, caramel, and marshmallow. The sherry oak presence steamrolls the usual house-style delicacy and notes of heather and farmstand honey, but the result is a solid, silky whisky that reminds me of bourbon. Interestingly, the sherry fruit flavors (which usually dominate a sherried whisky) are light and in the background, contributing only some dark plum, fruit pit, and peach flavors. A few drops of water brings out some floral accents without diminishing the powerhouse oak.
Finish is medium-long, relying heavily on the wood accent, some caramel apple, blackstrap rum, toasted clove or cinnamon, and red-wine tannins.
Not as easy-drinking as the Single-Barrel expression from The Balvenie, nor with as many fruit and flower notes. However, this Scotch stands on its own as a beautiful example of what quality Speyside whisky and careful oak aging can do, and with a fantastic price point. This gives oak-lovers a two-dimensional whisky with some unexpected twists, all on a pristine base of one of the best malts in Speyside.