Braeval 14, 1996 (Chieftain’s)

Chieftain's, Braeval, 1996Here is another malt from Braeval, released well after the shift from the Braes of Glenlivet name. It was tasted right after the first (the 1977 from Glenhaven that I reviewed a couple of days ago). This was bottled by Chieftain’s, one of the independent labels of Ian Macleod who also own Glengoyne and recently Tamdhu. This was one of the first releases, I think, after Chieftain’s moved from 43% to 46% as their minimum abv. This is obviously from a different era than the Glenhaven; but it’s also from a different cask type than the Cadenhead’s 16, 1997 I reviewed last month. Will cask type or era make more of a difference? Let’s get right to it.

Braeval 14, 1996 (46%; Chieftain’s; sherry butt; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)

Nose: Quite similar to the Glenhaven at first but much less intense: honeyed malt, some citrus and apricot and a hint of toasted wood and cereals. The fruit gets a little deeper with time. With a lot more time the gunpowder from the palate emerges on the nose as well but it’s not dominant here.

Palate: Citrus first and then a wave of savoury gunpowder. Some hints of tropical fruit below that but it’s a little too thin. The gunpowder gets a little stronger and begins to cover up the fruit. Not a whole lot of development.

Finish: Medium. A little metallic at first and then there’s the gunpowder.

Comments: Well, this is not very much like the bourbon cask Cadenhead’s from the following year. At first it seemed like it was going to be similar to the 1977 but then the gunpowder showed up–especially on the palate. It’s not overpowering or offensive (though the sulphur-phobe might disagree) but it doesn’t work so well with the thin mouthfeel. And given the thinnness I didn’t add water tonight. Not bad–especially on the nose–but a little too simple–especially on the palate.

I have now reviewed (and tasted) three Braevals, and found none of them particularly whelming. Ah well, more research needed.

Rating: 82 points.

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