Scotch and Poetry: Burns Night 2014

Whisky Talk

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Burns Night is one of Scotland’s highlights of the year and is the celebration of Scotland’s national poet and favorite Bard, Robert “Rabbie” Burns. Celebrated on January 25, Burns’ birthday, the night includes celebrations of Burns’ poetry, the Address to the Haggis (one of Burns’ most famous poems), the traditional dinner of haggis neeps & tatties (turnips & potatoes), various festivities, and of course your favorite beverage.

I thought I’d share this for anyone who might not be aware of the tradition but who would want to join in. Burns Night is celebrated all around the globe, and if you wish to take part in traditional festivities, a local Scottish pub is a great place to join in if you have one.

In light of recently getting my hands on a special dram I’ve been trying to acquire for some time, I’ve decided to celebrate Burns Day with The Balvenie. I have a couple tastings lined up for next Saturday but I’ll post my review of this particular whisky sometime that afternoon. Since I’m celebrating with The Balvenie I thought I’d share some of their other malts that you yourself can find readily available and may also choose to celebrate with. Below is a list of these whiskies along with distillery tasting notes:

The Balvenie 12 Year DoubleWood
The Balvenie DoubleWood is a 12 year old single malt which gains its distinctive character from being matured in two wood types. Over the period of maturation it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill European oak sherry cask. Each stage lends different qualities to the resulting single malt ~ the traditional casks soften and add character, while the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavor. RSP $49.99.
Nose:  Sweet fruit and Oloroso sherry notes, layered with honey and vanilla.
Palate:  Smooth and mellow single malt of beautifully combined flavors – nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of sherry.
Finish:  Long and warming.

The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask
Caribbean Cask has been matured in traditional oak whisky casks for 14 years, and then ‘finished’ in casks that previously held Caribbean rum. To create the ideal finish, Malt Master David Stewart filled American oak casks with his own blend of select West Indian rums. When he judged the casks to be ready, the rum was replaced with the 14 year old spirit and the wood was put to work adding the final touches. The result is an exceptional single malt whisky with the traditional smooth, honeyed character of The Balvenie, married with notes of toffee and a hint of fruit, with a warm, lingering finish. RSP $65.99.
Nose:  Rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combines with fresh fruit notes.
Palate:  Rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a fruity character that develops with time.
Finish:  Soft and lingering.

The Balvenie Single Barrel 12 Year
New for 2013, this Single Barrel expression from The Balvenie has been aged for 12 years in a first fill Bourbon cask of a single distillation. While each cask is subtly different, The Balvenie Malt Master hand selects only those casks characterized by sweetness and subtle vanilla oak to be bottled as The Balvenie Single Barrel. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 300 hand-numbered bottles drawn from a single cask, making each bottle unique and unrepeatable. The Balvenie Single Barrel 12 Year Old is bottled at the higher strength of 47.8% ABV. RSP $69.99.
Nose:  Honey notes are overlaid with sweet fruits and subtle spices.
Palate:  Rich and complex with a deep vanilla oakiness.
Finish:  Lingeringly sweet.

The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year
The Balvenie Single Barrel is a 15 year old single malt which is drawn from a single traditional oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Whilst each cask is subtly different, The Balvenie Malt Master selects only those casks which have the essential characteristics of The Balvenie Single Barrel, particularly honey, vanilla and oaky notes. Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles – so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable. RSP $79.99.
Nose:  Fragrant aroma of vanilla, honeyed sweetness, hints of heather and dry oaky notes.
Palate:  Rich and complex, suggestive of years of careful ageing. It has a honeyed maltiness with vanilla oak flavors, and delicate spice notes.
Finish:  Long and complex with a touch of liquorice.

The Balvenie DoubleWood 17 Year
To craft DoubleWood 17 Year Old, David Stewart returned to one of his most celebrated achievements – consecutive maturation in two different types of cask, a process often referred to as ‘cask finishing.’ This technique is at the heart of The Balvenie DoubleWood – it sees the whisky matured first in American oak barrels, which impart soft sweet vanilla notes, before being transferred to European oak sherry casks, where the second cask aging adds rich spicy flavors, depth and fullness of flavor. An elder sibling to the popular DoubleWood 12 Year Old, this version shares the same DNA and the honeyed, spicy characteristics as the 12 Year Old, but it is distinctly different, with deeper vanilla notes, hints of green apple, creamy toffee and a striking richness and complexity. RSP $129.99.
Nose:  Elegant and complex with oak, vanilla, honeyed sweetness and a hint of green apple.
Palate:  Sweet with dried fruits, sherbet spice, toasted almonds and cinnamon, layered with a richness of creamy toffee notes, traces of oak and deep vanilla.
Finish:  Vanilla, oak, honey and a spicy sweetness.

The Balvenie 21 Year PortWood
To create The Balvenie PortWood Aged 21 Years, a marriage of rare Balvenie is transferred to port casks, or pipes, which have held fine port wines. Here it is sampled regularly by The Balvenie Malt Master to ensure that just the right amount of character is imparted by the port casks, enhancing and developing the single malt while preserving its original characteristics. In duty free The Balvenie PortWood Aged 21 Years is non chill-filtered and bottled at a higher strength of 47.6% ABV. RSP $169.99.
Nose:  A perfume of fruity and ripe raisin notes, backed by a nutty dryness.
Palate:  Refined with remarkable character, it is creamy and silky with fruit, honey and spice notes.
Finish:  Long, gentle, nutty.

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