Hot on the heels of my review of the Balvenie Tun 1401, Batch 6, here is my review of Batch 3. This has one more cask in the vatting than Batch 6 does, and one more sherry cask. This was the first of the Tun 1401s to be released in the US (it was a US exclusive) and a number of people think it is among the best, if not the best of the series so far. Even people who don’t usually get carried away love it. As a result, I’m expecting it to be very good. Will reality match the expectation and talk? Let’s see.
Balvenie Tun 1401, Batch 3 (50.3%; from a sample from a friend)
The full bottle in the picture is my own–but thanks to Patrick, who shared a sample from his bottle, I’m able to keep that bottle closed for a special occasion.
Nose: Polished wood and honeyed fruit (over-ripe bananas) at first. Almost immediately come deeper sherried notes: brandied raisins, apricot and dried orange peel. Very close to the Batch 6. With a little more time there’s a creamy, buttery note as well and the wood recedes, letting the fruit and honey shine. With more time the creamy note intensifies and the fruit gets some tropical accents (papaya, mango); some toasted oak emerges as well. With a drop of water the fruit brightens up again and now there’s a hint of clove as well.
Palate: Comes in with bright citrus but as on the nose the bright notes intensify and deepen almost immediately. A lot more rich malt on the palate, along with some bittersweet chocolate and a touch of oak. On the second sip there’s more lemon peel and more spice (cinnamon, maybe a bit of nutmeg). With time the lemon peel is joined by apricot and some toffee. Okay, let’s add a drop of water. Water brings out the wood but it’s not very tannic. There’s also some berry sweetness now (strawberry) and also more honey.
Finish: Long. The malt and oak are most prominent here as the fruit slowly fades out. Sweeter with water but also more peppery.
Comments: Neat, the nose was very close to Batch 6 but the development was more interesting here. On the palate it’s very much a sibling but the extra sherry butt seems to have given this more depth and balance. I can’t say though that I found this to be head and shoulders above Batch 6 or that I was completely bowled over by it. I look forward to coming back to it when I do open my bottle.
Rating: 91 points.