Tonight I find myself snowed into my apartment, and “oh no, how terrible!” as I find myself in prime position to finally open my Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #3.
The Balvenie Tun line is a fascinating idea credited to none other than the Balvenie master distiller David Stewart. (If master distillers were on baseball cards, David Stewart would be the equivalent of the Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps rookie card.) The Balvenie Tun series vats together 10 total whiskies ranging in age from 1967 to 1989 for Batch #3. These hand selected whiskies are carefully chosen then finally matured together in a large container called a ‘tun’ for 3-4 months.
Balvenie, even as one of the larger distilleries, has an artistic flare to their brand which is found in each release. Some distilleries prefer to stick to their formula, age longer, and bottle – Balvenie continually branches out releasing different ages with unique flavor profiles. Balvenie is an attractive brand in this capacity. That in mind, the Tun 1401 release captured my interest immediately.
At ~$250 this bottle is not a minor financial endevour! Consider, however, for simple price comparison that the Portwood 21 starts at $150 and Balvenie 40 yr goes for $4,000. Have your feelings changed? Life is often times truly appreciated with the proper perspective.
The Scotch: The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #3 (US release) ~$250. 50.3% abv. Vatting of 7 traditional whisky casks (#s 9919, 12541, 5239, 7043, 15327, 5829, 6302) and 3 sherry butts (512, 13137, 13836). Dark amber color.
Nose: A complex, light mix of sweet grains, wine, alcohol mist. Definite highlights of fragrant sherry, floral notes, and waxy oak emerge, none too overpowering. Hints which lead me to believe I’m entering into a drink with various layers and attributes.
Palate: Extremely smooth in texture, noticed immediately. Multiple shades of finely matured sherry come together for a deep prolonged experience. The oak flavors are the solid foundation for this drink, though and exposed throughout. Other flavors, orange peel, honey dipped toasted rye bread, brown sugar, marzipan, dark chocolate dates and red grapes.
Finish: After the initial sips of this sweet palate coating Scottish tsunami, finish ends with a flare of sherry, sugar, and wood. Finish endures, fading slowly, moving my tongue around produces wonderful flavor aftershocks.
Final Thoughts: Deep multilayered flavors of sherry and oak are the signature of this expression. I have not tasted this level of deep oak since the North of Scotland 1964! (And, that’s saying something) This is unlike any of the standard Balvenie expressions, yet I can say it has some of the Balvenie feel to it; that of quality, served with a soft, inoffensive sweet elegance. Distinguished and aged, a Balvenie with a Ph.D.
Well worth the high cost for fans of Balvenie. Newcomers of the brand should enjoy but ultimately best served becoming familiar with the brand ahead of time.
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