Balvenie – Tun 1401 – Batch 9 – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 49.3% (98.6 Proof) $undisclosed
Color/Appearance: A chestnut mare with deep mahogany. Deep sherry influence and many years in oak have naturally turned this whisky into a thing of beauty. I love the bottle and all the information about which casks were merged in tun 1401 and how many were sherry casks and how many were bourbon matured. It would be cool if they could give even more info about the age of these casks. This lack of info just piqued my interest even more and I reached out to another whisky blogger I knew. He had experienced a special tasting put on by Balvenie to explore the components of this very whisky. Due to this inside info I know that some of these whiskies are very very old and one was even below proof and in need of some assistance to again qualify as whisky. Also he stated that even though these component whiskies were amazing in their own right the finished product was better than any one alone. This is a testament to the craft of the distiller, David Stewart and his blending abilities. Just looking at the bottle gives me shivers.
Nose: Mushrooms, damp wooden boards and an old heavily lacquered wooden box filled with amber resin incense. This just smells old and in the best way possible. Stewed apples and hints of long aged Calvados. Wax candles, pine cones and fragrant oak. Intoxicating with depth for the ages. The nose challenges you and the longer you explore the more rewarding it becomes. No easy flowers and fruit here, but what is waiting for you is worth the effort.
Palate: Soft wildflower honey, rich dark fruit, cherries macerated in dark chocolate, sandalwood, leather, juniper, black pepper and cardamon. Oak is here but all those years have transformed it into something much greater than a simple wood. Its as if every exotic wood on earth was handcrafted into some sort of super cask. Wow. These are the honey barrels stacked up from many many decades. I seriously don’t want each sip to end. Enough gushing lets move on.
Finish: Delicate lingering spices meld with exotic wood and rich fruits. Each sip seems to last forever on your tongue, rendering all other whiskies as just water with cheap alcohol added.
Overall: This whisky is an experience. Drinking it may ruin you. For once you realize how deep and rich flavors can go, the ordinary may now seem all that much more boring. Each sip makes me feel lucky to be alive. The skill, craft, devotion, and decades of waiting that went into making this fine whisky boggle the mind. To me the most interesting and surprising thing about drinking this is how little it resembles any whisky I have had before. This may be a no age statement whisky but some of the whiskies in here are thirty and forty years old. Since I do not have much experience with whisky of that age, this has been rather eye opening stuff. This was a serious splurge for me but I felt compelled after randomly finding it on a trip back home. I knew this was the last batch of Tun 1401 and I did not expect to see any bottles of this at all. Now they have an even larger tun with which to merge a greater number of whiskies. Unfortunately that new expression is less rare while also costing more. Not sure of the logic of that other than as unfortunate side effect of the well deserved praise this series has earned so far. This no age statement whisky is an amazing accomplishment from a revered distillery that does its own floor maltings and has at its disposal an arsenal of casks to choose from. Trust me, they chose very wisely. May you be so lucky as to taste this very fine whisky.