Continuing with its annual release of premium single malts the third year, The Balvenie has unveiled The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3. The latest limited-edition whisky set celebrates five notable creations of master distiller David Stewart MBE. It includes the distillery’s oldest whisky created by Stewart in his 55-year stint-- the 55-year old European Oak Oloroso Sherry Hogshead (41.7% abv), which was filled in 1961. The liquor has a honeyed and rose-fragrant nose with a complex palate of soft butterscotch and cinnamon, and a spicy floral finish. Each bottle is priced at £35,000.
Like its last two chapters, themed "Distillery Style" and "The Influence of Oak" respectively, this year's quintet is called "Secrets of the Stock Model". Reflecting the theme, the carefully selected Scotch bottles aim at demonstrating Stewart's command over the different factors and maturing processes of single malts. The 35-year old 1981 refill American Oak Hogshead (43.8% abv) and 23-year old 1993 refill American Oak Hogshead (51.9% abv) display the master craftsman's pioneering double cask maturation technique. This process became well-known as "DoubleWood", a term first used by the distillery itself while launching the spirit in 1993.
The two whiskies are distinct in their flavors. While on the nose the 1981 version is malty with notes of vanilla, honey and lemon zest, the 1993 version has a fruity and floral fragrance. The older version tastes maple sweet with hints of cinnamon and pineapple, and the younger one’s palate is syrupy with sweetness of toffee and honey against soft oak vanilla. The finish for both are also different – while the 1981 whisky will give a malty and spicy sweet finish, the 1993 one will be delicate and fruity.
The last two whiskies in the set has historical significance. While the 43-year old 1973 European Oak Oloroso Sherry butt (46.6% abv) evokes the 1970s era of the malt-whisky boom, the 2004 vintage (58.2% abv) signifies the year The Balvenie Thirty was first unveiled. The year also marked the malt master's 30th year in the industry.
The 1973 whisky has a rich and oaky nose. On the palate, it has a distinct spicy sweetness that finishes with a delicious balance of spice and dried fruits. The youngest of the lot, the 2004 vintage, is rich on the nose balancing notes of orange peel against oak tannins. The palate is subtle and spicy with a silky feel on the tongue. It finishes luxurious with hints of oak, spices and honey.
The Balvenie DCS Compendium Chapter 3 series of single malts are cased in cherry wood and brass frame. Designed by the famed Scottish designer, Sam Chinnery, the entire luxury Scotch whisky collection is together priced at £57,000. Individual units are also available for purchase; however, the distillery has released only 50 sets in the market.
Balvenie’s DCS Compendium Chapter 3 is a hard-to-miss collection this year. The distillery will be releasing two more Chapters in the next two years under the themes - "Expecting the Unexpected" and "Malt Master’s Indulgence" respectively.