It has been sometime since we last posted some tasting notes from one of our favourite whisky distilleries: The Balvenie. That said, if there were one dram that we’ve been waiting to try, it has to be the Peat Week expression released last year. This single vintage release from The Balvenie is the result of trials undertaken by Malt Master David Stewart and former Distillery Manager Ian Millar in 2001. Harking back to a time when Speyside distilleries used peat to fire their kilns, Peat Week refers to the one week in the year that the distillery reverts to this traditional method. This limited edition is aged for 14 years in American oak casks before bottling without chill filtration. This lends a gentle and sweet peat smoke on the nose, surrounded by lighter floral notes and butterscotch. The palate is velvety smooth with peat smoke balancing citrus, oaky vanilla and honey blossom. The finish is creamy with a vanilla sweetness and a lingering gentle smoke.
On the nose: you’ll experience sweet notes of brown sugar, followed by vanilla, raisins, cinnamon and smoke. Notes of black pepper, turmeric and hints of butterscotch start to unfold, alongside a touch of madeira cake. After a couple of swirls, notes of chocolate, a waxy note, a hint of fruit cake, with a welcomed meaty note start to emerge. Completing the nose are notes of orange marmalade, lemon zest and stem ginger. On the palate: those sweet notes of orange marmalade are ever-present, followed by dark chocolate, fennel seeds and subdued smoke. Some delicate notes of vanilla, butterscotch and currants will start to filter through, followed by cinnamon, hints of vanilla and a lovely, creamy, fading toffee note. Rounding-off the palate are those waxy, meaty notes, as well as those spicy black pepper and turmeric notes. The finish: is long, with those sweet raisin notes and spices, followed by lingering aniseed and smoke.
The verdict: A very subtle, yet elegant drop from Balvenie. It’s a dram that on the nose doesn’t fully reveal its peaty nature but rather suggests it’s more classical Balvenie expression, until you fully experience the palate. It has loads of lovely little subtle notes, sweet notes that balance out the dram quite nicely. Bottled at 48.3% ABV, it is definitely a drop that doesn’t need any water – though if you do need to then only add a very small amount. For me, I found when I left it for a short amount of time to sit in the glass between nosing and tasting – this yielded the best results notes wise.
The Balvenie Peat Week 2003 Single Malt Scotch Whisky can be found in all well-stocked whisky shops for approximately £60
For more information on this Peat Week expression, visit the official Balvenie website.