When the American Craft Council was in town, Steve and I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Lorne Cousin, The Balevenie brand ambassador, to talk all things scotch. (The ACC partnered with The Balvenie single malt scotch whisky because the company is committed to retaining a high level of hand craftsmanship, like the Craft Council’s gifted artists.)
The Balvenie offered complimentary tastings to show-goers and we were treated to a private sit-down with Lorne. The Balvenie is a unique range of single malt whiskies produced in Dufftown, in Scotland’s Speyside region. Each variant in the range has its own unique taste, while still maintaining the recognizable undertones of the distinctively rich, smooth and honeyed character of The Balvenie.
Lorne had us try four different scotches, finished with sherry, rum, or port barrels. Each finish made a difference in the overall taste, as did the number of years it was aged. He also had us try each with just a little water to show how that impacted the flavor. We learned some fun facts, like:
- To be called scotch, the liquor has to be made in Scotland. (Seems obvious, but I didn't know that.)
- Single malt scotch whisky is distilled in pot stills in Scotland and made of only a SINGLE grain (barley) at a SINGLE distillery.
- The Balvenie is one of only a few handfuls of distilleries in Scotland that are still Scottish owned.
- The Balvenie is the only distillery that still grows its own barley, malts in its own traditional malting floor, employs coopers to tend every cask, a coppersmith to maintain the stills and a malt master to ensure that the resulting spirit is consistently excellent.
The scotches aren't cheap, but they're well worth it. The Balvenie core range includes The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old ($50), The Balvenie 14 Year old Caribbean Cask ($66), The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Old ($80), The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year Old ($130).
The tasting room itself was designed by artist, designer and craftsman Mark Melonas and his team of artisans from LUKE WORKS. The entire space was spectacular and made us feel like we were in a tavern.
We enjoyed The Balvenie's scotches so much that we purchased a bottle as an engagement gift for friends. (Not the $130 bottle. Sorry, friends.) We hope they enjoy it as much as we did!