Balvenie 15, Sherry Cask 12243

The week began with a review of the current batch of the Kilkerran 8, CS which was put together from first-fill oloroso cask matured spirit. Today’s review is of another sherry cask-matured whisky. This one, from Balvenie in the Speyside, is almost twice the age of the Kilkerran. The old Balvenie 15 Single Barrel series was one of my favourites back when I got into malt whisky in a big way. Those were all single bourbon casks. A little less than 10 years ago or so that series was discontinued in favour of a new 15 y sherry cask series. Unsurprisingly, these releases cost a lot more. The lowest price in the US right now seems to be just under $100 though in most states they cost a lot more than that—in Minnesota the lowest price shown on Winesearcher is currently $130 before tax. The only other cask in the series that I’ve reviewed so far was certainly not a whisky I’d want to pay $130 for—or for that matter even much less. Now, it’s true that there are very few whiskies any more of any age or cask type that I’m willing to pay those kinds of prices for. Will this one turn out to be one of them? Let’s see. I’m not sure when this was bottled, by the way—I assume sometime in the last couple of years.

Balvenie 15, Sherry Cask 12243 (47.8%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Oak first, a bit spicy, a bit more perfumed. Below it dried tangerine peel and red fruit (cherries). Gets juicier as it sits—quite vibrant on the whole. A few drops of water bring out roasted malt here too now along with some cocoa powder.

Palate: Comes in as promised by the nose with the oak expanding as I swallow. The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than expected; a good drinking strength. The oak becomes more palpable on the second sip and turns more bitter (though not tannic). More citrus here with time. Okay, let’s see what water does. It pushes the oak back, pulls the roasted malt out earlier and emphasizes the citrus.

Finish: Long. The oak eases into citrus and then roasted malt emerges on the backend. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Not a sherry monster—there’s as much influence here from the oak as from the previous contents of the cask. A pleasant everyday drinker for those looking for sherried malts—though it is certainly not priced like one. I much preferred it with water—probably down below 46%.

Rating: 86 points.



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