I recently had the opportunity to try the new single malt offering from The Balvenie, one of Scotland’s famed Speyside distilleries. The limited edition 17-year-old Balvenie Madeira Cask was aged in traditional American oak whiskey casks before being transferred to barrels that previously held fortified Madeira wine.
This isn’t the first Balvenie expression that matures in fortified wine barrels. The 12-Year DoubleWood matures in sherry casks, while the 21-Year PortWood finishes, as the name implies, in port casks. Being a fan of the latter, and anticipating a tasty harmony of fruit and spice, I was eager to try The Balvenie Madeira Cask.
Rich, deep and complex. Warm spice, including cinnamon and nutmeg, with hints of vanilla and soft dried fruit.
The first sip is oaky, sweet vanilla that gives way to deep spices and raisin, along with more dried fruit flavors.
Very long, somewhat soft finish that continues the pleasantly balanced trend of fruit and spice with a bit of sweetness.
All in all, The Balvenie 17-Year Madeira Cask is an exceptionally balanced expression rich in spice and dried fruit, with subtle notes of sweet, honeyed vanilla. You can taste its maturation process, moving from American oak (sweet vanilla) to Madeira casks (spice, dried fruit), and neither overpowers the other. At $120 a bottle, it’s not an everyday whiskey, but you could sure drink it like one.
– 43% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★★