Review No.202 & 203. The Balvenie 14 & 17 Year Old

Here we have the Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean Cask and 17 year Old Doulewood.  I last came across the term Doublewood when I reviewed the Balvenie 12 year old.  This term reflects the maturation process where the spirit has been matured in ex bourbon casks and then transferred to ex first fill sherry casks for the final months. It appears that the 17 year old is pretty much the same but with an extra 5 years of maturation.  The 14 year old takes a detour from this and has been finished in Caribbean Casks.  I haven’t been able to find out how long this has spent in such casks but I hope it hasn’t been too long as previous experience has shown me that rum influenced whiskies are a bit too sweet for my taste.


Whisky: The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask Single Malt Whisky, 43%

Nose: Malt, molasses, spice, chilli, pepper, smoke, cereal

Taste: Raisins, honey, chilli, smoke, cinnamon, burnt toast, coffee, vanilla

Finish: Pepper, dry spice, dark chilli chocolate

Score: 2.75

Summary: This is quite a spicy whisky for my taste.  The rum influence is noticeable on the nose where I picked up molasses and then some coffee, honey, cinnamon and chocolate.  I picked up smoke on the nose and taste too.  I found the drying spice effect not to my liking and I felt that this whisky was balanced too much in that direction, whereas more malt, vanilla and raisins would have been more palatable for me. Saying that, this is probably the most palatable rum finished single malt I have tried so far, not that I have tried many.  There is a danger that a whisky can become too sweet.  In fact, I would have preferred a but more sweetness to offset the spice.  This is an interesting Speyside whisky which does stand out as different to the swathes of bottles on the market but it is not quite balanced to my liking.


Whisky: The Balvenie Doublewood 17 Year Old  Single Malt Whisky, 43%

Nose: Vanilla pods, leather, earthiness, stewed pears, syrup, cereal

Taste: Sherry, almonds, chocolate, peat, menthol, oak, mocha

Finish: Oak, spice and mocha

Score: 3

Summary: This one relates more to the 12 year old doublewood where I am picking up similar noes but with added maturity expressed through notes of leather.  The sherry influence is noticeable, in fact so noticeable I could taste sherry and not sherry influence notes.  I needed to put some water into this one to open it up as I found it quite concentrated to begin with but then these flavours didn’t develop for me.  The peat influence is nicely balanced with the other flavours and the mocha notes was really pleasant.  However, this isn’t a stand out malt for me when I think of other whiskies I could in this price range (approx. £100).


Scoring scale: My scores reflect a balance of the overall experience, availability and cost for a whisky,

1 – not to my preference

2 – tastes fine but does not excite me

3 – more to my liking and would revisit occasionally

4 – very much to my liking and would consider as a regular feature on my whisky shelf

5 – permanent feature on my whisky shelf


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