When it comes to Scotch whisky or even just Speyside malts for that matter, the choices can seem rather endless. The upside of this of course is that there’s a plethora of whiskies for us to try, with the name of the game being to find the hidden gems amongst them – which ones shine and stand out amongst the crowd. I can say from having tried this whisky before that it is definitely one of those malts.
The Balvenie Tun 1401, the first but not last Balvenie to be reviewed here at DGT, is a fine example of how extraordinary NAS whiskies can be. Released solely for European markets, Batch 5 is comprised of just nine casks – four Sherry butts from the 1970s (‘70,’71,’72 & ’75) and five Bourbon casks from 1966, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1991. This makes the oldest whisky in the batch about 45-years-old and the youngest whisky 21-years-old. However, the majority of the whiskies used were about 40 years of age – treasures of the warehouse indeed. Already the price screams one hell of a value. There were 2,862 bottles of Batch 5 produced.
Tun 1401 is a creation by Malt Master David Stewart, which was produced in and inspired by one of the oldest warehouse at the distillery, Warehouse 24. Originally created as a distillery only release, the Tun 1401 expression continued to be developed in batches and released for specific markets. Batch 2, 5 and 8 were bottled for European markets, while Batch 4 and 7 were bottled exclusively for travel retail. Here in the US three batches have been released – Batch 3, 6 and 9, with Batch 9 being the latest of the Tun 1401 releases.
Tun 1401 Batch 3 has no doubt become one of the more highly sought after of the nine batches, as many claim it to be the richest and most complex. Unfortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of trying it, but I’m not giving up just yet. Below is a video produced by The Balvenie which shows the creation of Batch 3 in the famous Warehouse 24 by David, some of the Balvenie crew and two US brand ambassadors.
Price: Approx $250/750ml
ABV: 50.1% – Cask Strength
Nose: Stunning Sherry and wood spices mixed with dark sweetness and finished oak right off the bat. The initial aromas make me feel like I have my nose down in a cask – quite unique this one. With that there is also tea soaked cinnamon stick, warm pie crust, baked apples, rich caramel drizzled raisins, honey, dried flowers, clove and toffee. Mature and sophisticated, we’re off to a fantastic start.
Palate: Instant burst of dried fruits and spices followed up with rich toffee sweetness that builds into more caramel and honey as it moves into mid-palate. There’s a lot going on here and it just dances on the tongue – raisins, cinnamon, spiced citrus peel, figs, again baked apple, roasted malt, mocha, hints of dried cranberry and prunes that seem to become more ripe plum as it falls into the back of the palate.
Finish: Long with that ripe plum, clove, toasted walnuts and oaky toffee.
Not much to say other than this is just fabulous whisky. It has great mouthfeel, it’s wonderfully complex and rich in flavor. There is a slight tanginess to it, but it doesn’t really stand out much. If Batch 3 tops Batch 5 it must be one hell of a whisky. This definitely ranks in the top tier of NAS whiskies I’ve tried.