The Balvenie (12 year) DoubleWood, Revisited

So it has indeed been 12 years since I first reviewed the 12-year edition of DoubleWood by Balvenie. In that time, it became my go-to suggestion for newbies, or (more accurately) my suggestion for aficionados wanting to indoctrinate newbies into the single-malt fold. It has a little of everything, and manages to remain balanced. It is (or was) reasonably-priced, and comes from a venerable name in single-malt scotch.

After some prodding from commenters, I realized it was necessary to revisit this bottle to make sure it hasn’t slid down the slippery slope of demand-outstripping-supply that has undone many excellent malts during my tenure as The Scotch Noob. (I’m looking at you, Uigeadail.) So, ever a servant to the craft, I purchased a $58 bottle of DoubleWood whilst grumbling the whole time that it used to be $36, and set myself to tasting.

Nose: Distinctly, but not fully, sherried: fresh stone fruit (plums), fresh fig, and red cherries. There are also kiwi and gooseberry notes that might be derived from the ex-bourbon cask. Light butterscotch, honey, and florals like honeysuckle and mumblemumble (I don’t know flowers). Overall light, fruity, pleasant, and summery.

Palate: Silky but not syrupy body with a mild tongue burn. More butterscotch and oaky vanillas and a layer of graham cracker and sugar cookies, but little fruit.

Finish: Of medium length. A touch of smoke that is likely from the barrel char, but only a low level of charcoal bitterness. Marshmallow and dried coconut linger to the end.

With Water: Several drops of water wake up a bit of licorice and almond extract on the aroma, dampening the fruit in the process. The palate seems thinner. This does not need water, but it doesn’t hurt to try a (very) little.

Overall: After all these years, Balvenie DoubleWood 12 is still the quintessential mid-level single malt. It has an array of pleasant but not overbearing flavor and aroma notes (mostly fruit on the nose and baked goods on the palate), with no off-notes and mercifully little bitterness on the finish. It’s just everything you want it to be, and is still probably the best single pour of malt to introduce a newcomer to.

The only thing that has changed since I last reviewed this is the price.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Built by the Grant family in 1892 as a sister distillery to next-door Glenfiddich, The Balvenie still remains in the ownership of the family. Unusual for a distillery of this size, Balvenie still operates its small floor maltings, grows some of its own barley, and has an on-site cooperage. It now has eight stills, which some think are the key to its nutty, honeyed style – they are fat and have short necks.
The Balvenie (12 year) DoubleWood, Revisited
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $57-$70
Acquired: (750ml Bottle) purchased at Costco, San Jose, CA, $58

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  • Out of curiosity what happened with Uigeadail? It used to be an old favorite of mine but in recent years I’ve gotten my high proof peat+sherry fix elsewhere, so I haven’t had it in a while.

    • Blogger rumors have always been that Uigeadail got wildly popular when Ardbeg was dumping older casks into the vatting, and then they ran out of older casks (or, more accurately, old whisky became popular again and was suddenly too valuable to dump into vattings). I remember tasting it at an event and thinking it was excellent, and then buying a bottle a ~ year later and being disappointed. I never went back. This is all hearsay and subjectiveness, though. Some people still love that dram, and there’s nothing “wrong” with it, per se.

      • Thanks for the info. I’ve been wanting to try it again and the 10yo is a staple on my shelf. It’s priced at semi-splurge range for me and I always find my self reaching for something else when I’m inclined to spend $85 plus. Cheers!