The Balvenie distillery is located in Dufftown on Speyside, in Scotland. The River Spey is the fastest flowing river in Scotland and is noted for it's salmon fishing and for the host of Scotch distilleries that prize the water. The folks at Balvenie are very proud of tradition, so much so that they grow their own barley and also maintain the process of the traditional malting floor, the last of the Scottish Highlands distilleries to do so. They offer quite a range of whiskies, many of which are finished in various wood barrels and casks that come from the maturation of other types of spirits.
The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whisky is matured for 14 years in traditional oak whisky casks, and then transferred to barrels in which rum had been aged. According to the folks at Balvenie, this produces "an exceptional single malt whisky with the traditional smooth, honeyed character of The Balvenie, married with notes of toffee and a hint of fruit, with a warm, lingering finish". A bottle was recently acquired by this writer, so enough chat! Let's look it over and try some!
The packaging is very traditional, as far as big name scotches go. The bottle is housed in a heavy paperboard stock tube in a buff color with contrasting black metal end caps. The bottle is of clear glass, featuring a paper label matching the same buff color as the tube. It's a very stately presentation. The whiskey is pale amber in color with straw gold highlights as light glints through the liquid. Poured into a glass, the whiskey has faint legs with limited duration. The nose is very nice, perhaps un-scotchlike is the word that comes to mind the fastest. Bright and sweet notes of vanilla, lavender, and caramel were countered with the earthy, resinous aromas one would typically expect in a fine scotch. The tasting is a joy, with flavors of amber honey, sweet wood, and even pineapple with a soft, lingering finish. The mouthfeel is silky and there is no burn or bite. This Caribbean Cask iteration tastes like the marriage of a fine scotch and an excellent sipping rum. Perhaps not a go to bottle for one looking for a "classic" glass of scotch, but a delightful departure from the norm! And, courtesy of a distillery steeped in tradition! As the saying goes, Fortune Favors the Bold!
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