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The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Years Old Single Malt, Scotland Add to ...

  • Rating 93
  • Price $167.95

The Balvenie, in Dufftown near the ruined 12th-century Balvenie Castle in the Scottish Highlands, grows and malts its own barley. That makes it unique among single-malt distilleries, which source their raw material from the outside. I can’t say whether it necessarily leads to a superior distillate, but you have to respect the old-timey ways. And I suppose it speaks to a certain obsession with doing things right. Malt Master David Stewart, who celebrated 50 years with the distillery’s parent, William Grant & Sons, in 2012, crafted this as an elder sibling to the popular 12-year-old DoubleWood. The branding refers to the maturation regimen. For most of its life, the spirit ages in standard ex-bourbon casks, then it goes into former sherry casks for a “finishing” period of several months. To oversimplify, the old bourbon-infused American oak imparts vanilla-like character, while the sherry-soaked wood lends fruitiness and spice. I love this dram, expensive though it is. It leaps forward with sweet fruit, notably the green-apple character common to longer-aged whiskies, then toffee, vanilla, rich maltiness and a bold spicy lift.

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