There have been quite a few events taking place over the past month or so as new whiskies launch and old ones are revisited, but what is interesting is the format in which these are happening.
The Whisky Wire have started a rather cool online tasting using twitter where samples are sent out to the usual whisky writers and bloggers to be tasting and discussed across the twittesphere. The good thing with this is that even if you are unlucky enough not to have a dram in front of you at the time, you can easily imagine it from the great descriptive tweets following one after the other.
Other tastings are looking at deconstructing the whisky. The first in October was with the Grants 25 yr old- and all 25 component parts were on show/sampled. I unfortunately missed it as I was conducting my own tasting that evening. Poor time management on my part! And then later that month Balvenie held a deconstruction of the famous Tun 1401 which is made up of a number of rare and old whiskies hand married into a large tun of about two thousand litres. All the component whiskies were there to taste, again an event I sadly missed out on! There is a pattern forming here that I am none too happy about!
But at last, this week I could make it along to a rather special launch – The Balvenie 40 yr old.
Held in the cavernous surroundings of the Victoria and Albert museum, it had to be a good whisky to hold the attention with all the wonderous exhibits in close proximity. And indeed it was.
Old whisky, is not always good whisky that’s for sure - leave a whisky too long in the cask and wood typically spoils the party and becomes too overpowering, smothering the more delicate fruit notes that have taken so long to show themselves. It is a tricky balance to achieve, and take a great deal of warehouse management to reach a great age in great condition.
The 40 yr old we tasted was one of only 150 bottles worldwide and of only two in the UK so it was quite a privilege to be amongst the select few to first try it outside of the distillery.
Balvenie has always been about craftmanship and time, and the wooden presentation box made by a father and son team further exemplifies this nod to traditional ways. But at £2,500 a bottle, the price is anything but traditional!
I had some chocolates left over from a tasting I had conducted earlier and decided to hand them out. It just so happens they were Paul A Young chocolates which went down so well with the selection of other Balvenie available to taste.
My notes for the Balvenie 40 were a little scribbled, which is a shame because I doubt I will geta chance to sample it again, but below is what I could decipher from the scroll.
An appearance of rich gold and dark honey
The nose is immediately warm and honeyed with light clove, cedar wood, Apple blossom and vanilla fudge. It is surprisingly fruity considering its age and opens further to reveal linseed oil, marzipan and raisins. Great depth or aroma yet never too overpowering. There was a light astringent note I thought mimicked tea-tree oil which kept drifting across the nose is a pleasant way of course!
The first sip of this aged wonder brings citrus, spice, dry fruit such as apricot and raisin again with a more drying element of cedar wood to follow.
The lengthy finish turns dryer still but does not become woody as one might expect, rather remaining rich with coffee notes and light spice.
With a week ahead of more launches and other whisky events, I am sure this little beauty will remain fresh in my mind for some time to come as it is going to take a lot of beating.