Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Whiskey Wednesday: The Balvenie Guys (and Gals) Come to LA
Last week I attended Balvenie's tasting to kick off their new 17 year old Madeira cask whisky. Balvenie is, of course, one of the most popular Scotch whiskies in the US, loved for its smoothness and drinkability. Balvenie fans gathered at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills to sample the Balvenie range, including the 12 year old doublewood, 15 year old single cask and 21 year old port wood, as well as the new Madeira cask. The Madeira cask is a limited edition, annual release of Balvenies aged in different types of barrels (it was preceded by a rum cask). A large complement of Balvenie brand representatives were on hand to answer questions and engage in whisky-related banter, including veteran Global Ambassador David Mair, local representative Andrew Weir and the inimitable Dr. Whisky.
From my tastings at the event (disclaimer: event tastings are not as rigorous as my normal home-tastings), I found the Madeira cask to have some nice malt and some nice sweetness lasting into the finish that likely comes from that Madeira cask. Overall though, if I had to pick my favorite Balvenie, it would still be the 21 year old port wood, followed by the 15 year old single barrel. The port flavors of the 21 integrate well into the malt to give it some real heft and the 15 year old single barrel is a good, punchy whisky.
On the shelves, the 12 year old doublewood goes for around $40, the 15 year old single barrel is $50, the 21 year old port wood is $190 and the new Madeira cask is $120.
Thanks to all of the Balvenie folks who made the event possible. And a note to other distilleries: this free event had a great turnout and was filled with many whisky novices who will probably be buying a lot of Balvenie in the next months. Come to LA and let us taste your whisky!