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.